This Striking Net-Zero Home Wraps Around a Serene Pond

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By Lucy Wang
Rooted in sustainable design, the Connecticut House radiates an undeniable Zen-like vibe.

When a family of environmentalists tapped Cutler Anderson Architects to create a low-maintenance home that offsets its energy use with renewable resources, the firm designed a modern residence that did not disappoint.

Located on a quiet 4.3-acre wooded landscape, the Connecticut House borders a tranquil 750-acre nature preserve.

Located on a quiet 4.3-acre wooded landscape, the Connecticut House borders a tranquil 750-acre nature preserve.

As a result of the clients' wishes, the architects not only built a modern, net-energy residence, they also crafted a design that offers a seamless connection to the outdoors. By building the property around a large pond, the eco-friendly volume appears to float effortlessly above the calm water.

The entry foyer—perched on the pond’s west bank—opens to a long, glazed walkway, which is elevated above the water and leads to the main living spaces and bedrooms beyond.

The entry foyer—perched on the pond’s west bank—opens to a long, glazed walkway, which is elevated above the water and leads to the main living spaces and bedrooms beyond.

"Our aim is to always reveal the beauty of the natural world that surrounds us," explains Cutler Anderson Architects. "The design attempts to make the pond and home a single entity."

Unfinished cypress siding was chosen for its natural resiliency and durability

Unfinished cypress siding was chosen for its natural resiliency and durability

The architects have mitigated the sloped terrain by elevating parts of the single-story residence on rectangular pillars.

The architects have mitigated the sloped terrain by elevating parts of the single-story residence on rectangular pillars.

The house comprises three structures strategically located to dam a waterway into a man-made pond, which nurtures a thriving ecosystem that includes birds, fish, amphibians, and aquatic insects.

The cross-axis bridge is faced with full-height glazing to overlook views of the pond.

The cross-axis bridge is faced with full-height glazing to overlook views of the pond.

Amy Aidinis Hirsh smartly dressed the contemporary interiors with furnishings of varying shades of gray to balance the warm timber hues.

Amy Aidinis Hirsh smartly dressed the contemporary interiors with furnishings of varying shades of gray to balance the warm timber hues.

Spread out across a single level, the main living spaces are linked via fully glazed bridges. Floor-to-ceiling glazing, coupled with a rich timber palette, has been installed throughout the home to embrace indoor-outdoor living.

Three en-suite bedrooms are located in the volume on the east side of the property, while the remaining two en-suite bedrooms and garage are housed in the northernmost volume.

Three en-suite bedrooms are located in the volume on the east side of the property, while the remaining two en-suite bedrooms and garage are housed in the northernmost volume.

The indoor-outdoor connection can also be enjoyed in the bedrooms.

The indoor-outdoor connection can also be enjoyed in the bedrooms.

The net-zero house offsets its energy use with a 2,800-square-foot photovoltaic rooftop array, in addition to a six-panel radiant solar array. The home is also equipped with a geothermal heating system, comprising of 14 wells and a six-panel solar water heater.

A 2,800-square-foot rooftop solar array covers all of the home's electricity needs.

A 2,800-square-foot rooftop solar array covers all of the home's electricity needs.

"The ultimate goal was a net-zero home that would achieve a daily connection to the natural world, and also foster existing wildlife while encouraging new habitats," continue the architects. 

The back of the cross-axis bridge is mostly opaque.

The back of the cross-axis bridge is mostly opaque.

A large skylight lets ample light into the bathroom.

A large skylight lets ample light into the bathroom.

The predominately timber palette carries over into the Quantum custom-made, triple-glazed windows, which have been framed with unfinished, reclaimed Redwood on the exterior and Douglas Fir, finished in clear lacquer, on the interior.

The predominately timber palette carries over into the Quantum custom-made, triple-glazed windows, which have been framed with unfinished, reclaimed Redwood on the exterior and Douglas Fir, finished in clear lacquer, on the interior.

The cabinetry hardware was designed by Cutler Anderson Architects and can be found through Reveal Designs / Sun Valley Bronze.

The cabinetry hardware was designed by Cutler Anderson Architects and can be found through Reveal Designs / Sun Valley Bronze.

The view from the kitchen to the garage.

The view from the kitchen to the garage.

The interior is primarily finished in clear Douglas Fir to help add warmth/vibrancy to the home.

The interior is primarily finished in clear Douglas Fir to help add warmth/vibrancy to the home.

To minimize energy loss, the architects have wrapped the house with highly efficient spray-in polyurethane foam insulation, made with recycled plastic bottles by Lapolla.

To minimize energy loss, the architects have wrapped the house with highly efficient spray-in polyurethane foam insulation, made with recycled plastic bottles by Lapolla.

Here is a look at the floor plan.

Here is a look at the floor plan.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Cutler Anderson Architects

Builder / General Contractor: A.Pappajohn Company

Structural Engineer: Madden Baughman Engineering, Inc.

Environmental Engineering: Tucker Associates 

Landscape Design: Anthony Archer Willis and DeVore Associates and Owner

Interior Design: Amy Hirsch Interiors