An Elegant Abode Embraces Nature Without Waiving Privacy

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By Lucy Wang
In North Carolina's Cary suburb, a contemporary home of timber, glass, and concrete blocks is designed for a nature-loving couple who value privacy.

When In Situ Studio was tapped to design a modern home in Raleigh, North Carolina, they were presented with a tricky challenge: to create an expansive indoor-outdoor living experience while simultaneously preserving the family's privacy. 

"Both of these priorities were at odds with the small corner lot they had purchased," the architects explain. 

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The Trull Residence is topped with a thin, broad roof that has four-foot eaves and a six-inch tapered fascia.

The Trull Residence is topped with a thin, broad roof that has four-foot eaves and a six-inch tapered fascia.

Yet, with strategic massing, the architects have achieved both goals by splitting the 3,097-square-foot, single-story home into three distinct volumes, with the public and private wings separated by a glass hallway

The private bedroom and service rooms are located at the northern street corner and are clad in concrete masonry units.

The private bedroom and service rooms are located at the northern street corner and are clad in concrete masonry units.

The "living pavilion" on the southern wing is elevated to make the space level with the home.

The "living pavilion" on the southern wing is elevated to make the space level with the home.

To emphasize a strong connection with the landscape, the team has placed the living spaces in a glazed "living pavilion" in the rear where the forest and pond are framed with full-height glazing.  The private wing is located near the street—a layout that departs from the conventional norm.

"The east façade reveals these distinct parts of the house—the grounded bedroom volume to the north, the glass hallway, which offers a glimpse to otherwise secluded outdoor spaces, and the living pavilion that is lifted above the site to view the forest and pond," the team adds.

"The east façade reveals these distinct parts of the house—the grounded bedroom volume to the north, the glass hallway, which offers a glimpse to otherwise secluded outdoor spaces, and the living pavilion that is lifted above the site to view the forest and pond," the team adds.

To mitigate the site’s nine-foot change in elevation, the architects have elevated the home on concrete masonry units (CMU) of varying heights. 

The steel-framed glazed living pavilion is partly clad in wood and sits atop CMU walls.

The steel-framed glazed living pavilion is partly clad in wood and sits atop CMU walls.

Burnished CMU walls also clad the private wing—which houses the bedrooms, bathrooms, office, laundry area, and a large workspace—to give the volume a solid appearance. 

In contrast, the elevated living pavilion—consisting of the kitchen, living area, dining room, and screened porch—is constructed mainly of glass and Ipe wood and is carefully shielded from view.

The thin roof extends over the east side of the entry hall, while a series of skylights allow natural light to pass through. The entrance is on the west side of the glazed entrance.

The thin roof extends over the east side of the entry hall, while a series of skylights allow natural light to pass through. The entrance is on the west side of the glazed entrance.

A look inside the glazed entry facing the living pavilion.

A look inside the glazed entry facing the living pavilion.

The tall white-painted ceiling and walls give the light-filled living room a bright and airy vibe.

The tall white-painted ceiling and walls give the light-filled living room a bright and airy vibe.

The south deck overlooks views of the forest and pond.

The south deck overlooks views of the forest and pond.

The fully glazed living pavilion embraces views of the forest and pond, and enjoys access to a yard, patio, screened porch, and deck on three sides.

The fully glazed living pavilion embraces views of the forest and pond, and enjoys access to a yard, patio, screened porch, and deck on three sides.

The entry hall also connects to the more private sleeping wing that's clad in CMU and features a central hall illuminated by skylights.

The entry hall also connects to the more private sleeping wing that's clad in CMU and features a central hall illuminated by skylights.

A section through the entry hall.

A section through the entry hall.

A look at the Trull Residence floor plan.

A look at the Trull Residence floor plan.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: In Situ Studio

Contractor: Aiello Builders Inc.

Structural Engineer: Lysaght & Associates Structural Engineers