Living Ruin

Roscoe, New York | After Architecture X Jose Tijerina


Living Ruin is a weekend home for a couple from Manhattan. A culinary writer and a musician, the couple retreats to the serenity of the wooded site in Roscoe, New York to escape the bustle of urban life.

Sited on a historic lakeside property beset with ruins and stone walls, Living Ruin borrows the language of the wall to mediate a meadow and a cliff above a scenic valley. The dwelling is sited in the location of an existing timber-frame house slated for demolition due to structural decay. The new design maintains the massive stone chimney of the previous building in order to honor the past inhabitation of the site. The chimney is part of a series of existing stone interventions, with stone walls that stretch across the site and form terraces that step down to a lake. The existing stone walls and treeline wrap layers of space, with the house  taking form as the final wall to complete the geometry of the site and tie the spaces together.

The floor plan is shaped by an inhabitable wall that forms a boundary between meadow and valley. Communal spaces are located along the terraced meadow, creating a continuous procession that changes function as the floor steps up and down with the landscape. The wall itself houses utilities such as toilets, baths, laundry facilities, closets, and storage, while volumes puncture through the wall to create private spaces and frame the valley to the west. The frames extend toward the meadow to support the roof and form furniture, from front porch to dining booth. The first volume is the carport, which intersects the wall to frame the lake from the perspective of the car. A recording studio facing the forest provides a secluded space for the musician while a large open kitchen and dining room provides views both west to the lake and east to the valley, a commanding position for the culinary writer to test the newest recipe. The wall terminates by turning around an existing stone chimney, climbing to create a tower outpost and framing an exterior room underneath.

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