Located within the rolling hills of northeastern Pennsylvania, an old 88-acre farmstead was selected as the site of a new estate. Years before, when the land was used for farming, a wetland was drained and filled with soil to make way for agricultural production. The raised field interrupted the natural drainage of the site and caused chronic erosion and flooding problems. The biodiversity of the land was stripped away to make way for crops.
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After purchasing the land, the new owner aimed to create a residence that was functional, environmentally responsible, and reflected the beauty of the natural landscape.
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The landscape architect chose to place the residence in the valley rather than the summit. This location allowed architects to reuse existing materials by building onto the historic stone house and reduce electricity costs for the house by leveraging shade from the site’s mature trees.
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Sustainable stormwater management systems are layered throughout the site to decrease flooding and reuse water for site maintenance. By restoring the natural grades of the land, rain water now collects in a pond on the south side of the new estate. The pond prevents flooding in other areas of the site and reintroduces an aquatic ecosystem that had long been destroyed.
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A series of stone step pools move water through the landscape. The pools step down in elevation, working with the existing landforms to provide drainage, control overflow of the pond, and prevent site erosion.
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The gutterless roof directs rainwater to a gravel strip surrounding the residence. This sustainable water system filters the roof water and returns it to the pond or planting beds, a sustainable alternative to conventional gutters and storm drains.
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In an effort to integrate the new structure into the natural landscape, the design preserved the existing trees. The landscape architect reintroduced native grasses and evergreen ferns, which create new habitats for native insects and birds.
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Stonewalls and fieldstone paving sourced locally were used, mimicking old construction methods. The stone used in the design was collected from areas around the site, preventing the need to purchase and transport expensive stone from far away.
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