Ai Weiwei and HHF Architects Create a Rural Retreat For Two Art Collectors

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Geometric forms clad in corrugated iron, the residence doubles as a gallery for the couple's collection.

Designed by Swiss studio HHF Architects and Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, the Tsai Residence was designed as a weekend home for an art collector couple who wanted a gallery space for their large paintings. 

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Sited on the highest point of a large, elevated plot in the town of Ancram, New York, the 4,000-square-foot residence appears as a simple abstract figure composed of four rectangular structures. 

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These simple, timber-frame buildings are clad in corrugated galvanized iron on the outside, and gypsum panels on the inside. 

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The balloon-frame home features a shiny, metallic facade that was inspired by the agricultural sheds commonly seen in farms in the area. 

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The horizontal edges of the corrugated iron sheets overlap to articulate the house’s structure, creating vertical pockets of glazed openings where natural light shines through to illuminate the interiors and artwork hanging on the walls. 

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Within, small passageways connect the boxes, so the four volumes dissolve into lofty living spaces with expansive white walls. 

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The rooms differ in height, and are positioned along a line that traverses the house via two small staircases. 

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Project Credits: 

Architecture: HHF Architects and Ai Weiwei 

Builders and cabinetry design and installation: Reed Contracting Services 

Structural and civil engineer: Proper & O’Leary Engineering dpc 

Landscape design: Sozo Landscape Design 

Windows and doors: Case 

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