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Location: Dutchess County, New York, US
Area: 2,000 SF
Year: 2013

American Architecture Award
AIA NY Design Award
Interior Design Best of Year Award
Boston Society of Architecture Housing Award
World Architecture Festival Finalist Award
Architizer A+ Design Award- Special Mention
SARA NY Gold Award of Excellence
SARA National Design Award

ARCHITECTS: Desai Chia Architects
MECHANICAL: Tucker Associates
CIVIL: Paggi Martin DelBene
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
LIGHTING: Christine Sciulli Light + Design
MILLWORK: Desciencelab
PHOTOGRAPHY: © Paul Warchol

Designed as a contemplative retreat for weekend visitors, this guest house is situated on a rock outcropping that overlooks a trout pond and open farmland with vast unobstructed views to the landscape. The house integrates a number of sustainable design strategies, including geothermal heating and cooling, radiant floors, natural ventilation, motorized solar shades, photovoltaic panels, and rainwater harvesting for irrigation, in addition to an elegant structural design.

Open views to nature create a stunning backdrop for the main living and sleeping areas.  A main bedroom and two ‘couchette’ nooks with built-in bunk beds provide accommodations for six overnight guests.

The couchette nooks, bathroom, and storage rooms are housed within a slatted wood core in the middle of the house. The custom wood wall system surrounding the core allows natural light to penetrate through to the inner spaces of the home by day; at night, light emanates from the wood core and provides a warm, inviting glow in the living areas.  The slatted system also allows the whole house to ‘breathe’; comfortable natural ventilation occurs throughout the house, even in the sleeping couchettes and storage closets.

The structural design for the house relies on 4 steel columns imbedded in the wood core; the roof cantilevers out from these 4 columns. This elegant structural solution uses the minimum amount of materials to achieve expansive, open living areas at both ends of the house. The façade of the house was designed as a thermally robust system of high-performance, triple-paned glass units that vary in width from 10’ to 20’. The entire glass assembly was prefabricated off-site, shipped to the site in one container, and erected by crane in 2 days.

Landscape design strategies were closely tied to the design of the house. A tight palette of native vegetation highlights vistas and other natural features on the property while also managing storm water run-off. Local bluestone slabs and shale excavated from the site create outdoor seating areas and pathways; bluestone steps from the terrace lead to a barbeque area and an outdoor shower in the woods.

Desai Chia Architects

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All images courtesy of Desai Chia Architects  |© Paul Warchol




Desai Chia Architects

Katherine Chia FAIA and Arjun Desai AIA are the founding principals of Desai Chia Architecture. Since 1996, they have established the firm’s reputation for authentic design, creating inspiring environments expressive of their use and materials; Desai Chia’s portfolio includes cultural, residential, and commercial projects as well as commissions for product design and collaborations with artists. Projects are currently in development throughout the United States and India.

Desai Chia’s projects have been published extensively and received many accolades including the AIA Institute Honor Award, AAP Small Firm of the Year Award for Multi-disciplinary Architecture, numerous American Architecture Awards, AIA Design Awards, Interior Design Best of Year Awards, the IDEA Award, and several Good Design Awards. The firm’s work has been exhibited at the Center for Architecture, the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Istanbul Bienniale, Salone del Mobile Milan, the Herman Miller showrooms in New York and LA, and Parsons The New School of Design.

Katherine Chia FAIA earned her Master of Architecture degree from M.I.T. and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College. Prior to founding Desai Chia Architecture, she worked for Maya Lin on numerous art and architecture commissions. Chia is a registered architect in the state of New York & Connecticut. She has also been a faculty member in the architecture department at Parsons The New School of Design. She is Co-Chair of the Van Alen Institute’s Program Leadership Council, an elected member of the AIA NY Finance Committee, and Trustee Emerita of Amherst College.

Arjun Desai AIA grew up in New Delhi and Mumbai, India.  Prior to founding Desai Chia Architecture, he worked at SHCA/NY on numerous civic projects in New York and Washington, D.C. He earned his Master of Architecture degree from M.I.T. and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Bennington College.  Desai is a registered architect in the state of New York and an active member of the AIA NY.


Desai Chia Architecture
115 West 27th Street, Suite 901
New York, NY 10001

phone: 212-366-9630



Desai Chia Architecture