How can the shape of land, a particular vantage point, and expansive views evoke a house design?  My clients took the plunge to build on family land near Dodgeville, and chose a spot at the edge of a cornfield, with long views across rolling hills to the north.  Lovely views, but barren of any distinguishing "ground" features.  We would have to create "a sense of place".  On closer examination and with the help of a topographic map, I realized the chosen spot hugged the edge of a point of land that extended northwest like a finger.  This narrow ridge sloped steeply off on both sides, and with careful placement, the house could have a walkout or daylit basement.

I explored 4 options drawn at 1:40 scale....what designers call "thumbnails".  Small drawings, but rich in detail.  Mapped out are 2 foot contours, the driveway, the existing outbuilding, and location of utilities including electricity, well, and septic drainfield. 

Scheme A perches the house to the edge of the point, sinking a parking court below the ridge, with gardens above.  A retaining wall intercepts the northwest contours, sheltering a walkout basement patio area.

Scheme B traces a horseshoe driveway along the contours, with shapely gardens on both sides.  Scheme C aims you right down the point, riding a level contour for a dramatic approach.  Scheme D comes at the house from the opposite side of the ridge, and places the house directly at the terminus of the point.  

How does each scheme resolve the problem of a lovely but windswept spot, and make sense of the slopes?  What strategies could turn a cornfield into a family home?

608-935-9020 178 1/2 N. Iowa Street Suite 204 Dodgeville, WI 53533