This small house structure, located in Bundoran Farm—a unique sustainable residential community on a working farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia. Is an art studio, an exercise room, and a place to practice and rehearse on the drum kit. In other words, a getaway from the owners’ busy city life.

With the 2020 arrival of Covid-19, the owners were eager to leave Manhattan and spend more time in rural Virginia. The wife is a three-dimensional artist working in varied media. The husband plays drums in his free time. With the realization that pandemic life was the new normal came the need for more space, for living as well as creating.

Adding onto an existing one-bedroom 18th-century log cabin was not an option. Any new freestanding structure had to be located within buildable area limits defined by the architectural guidelines of Bundoran Farm.

After studying the topography of the 33-acre the structure was sited on the high point of the lot, tucked between a pasture, an apple orchard, the existing cottage, and a second homesite area where a new house would be built in the future. Not knowing exactly where that house might be located, or what it would look like, the studio had to be both proximate and complimentary.

One year later, that new house is under construction and the studio is nicely nestled into view from it. With a new primary residence underway, the log cabin becomes a guest cottage, and the studio is a dedicated quiet space located between the two.

The simple, minimal, prismatic form of the building distills the architects’ Scandinavian barn inspirations into an essential and timeless vernacular. The sculptural form of the building is emphasized by the use of the same cladding system on the roof and the exterior walls. The dark geometry resolves into individual slats of wood, and the perceptions of the structure change quite a bit from distant to near. The color palette is kept to an absolute minimum using dark-stained poplar slats for both wall and roof. The wood is thermally treated for permanence.

The cladding system is sectional and designed to be removable. The vertical slats are attached to horizontal battens, aligned on all elevations, roof, and entry door. Behind carefully detailed and rigorously spaced wood slats is a black, UV-stable waterproofing membrane.

The interior is an unembellished working space that is painted white. It is equipped with adjustable ceiling track lighting and a walk-in art supply closet across the south wall. Large windows light the room from three sides and provide a 270-degree view of the surrounding. The south wall remains solid to afford privacy from the vehicular driveway, and to protect the room from direct southern sun. Functionally, it made sense to put the entry door in that wall because of its proximity to the cottage.

Technical sheet

Project team

Owner’s Design Representative: Ivy Naté

General Contractor: Element Construction

Year of completion: 2021

Building area: 565 sf / 52 sqm

Site area: 33 acres / 13.35 ha