A Simple Sustainable Studio

A new art studio replaces a rundown shed in a garden, adjacent to a tidal marsh in southern Maine. The design approach marries the shared simplicity of Shaker and Japanese design. Window openings are selectively incorporated to take advantage of specific views of the garden and the tidal marsh beyond. The sketch reveals an updated design that finds a use for the multitude of rocks and ledge pieces found during the excavation process. The rocks will be set into new stone walls with a stone garden to be added to the existing garden filled with native pines and Japanese maples, further unifying the structure and garden.

Where possible, components from the existing shed structure, primarily wood sheathing and beam structure, have been salvaged and reused. New construction follows the Passive House approach of air tightness and a highly insulated envelope, avoiding the need for a heating system beyond one small electric wall heater. The wall, roof, and foundation assemblies adhere to a “foam-free” philosophy, avoiding the use of products made with fossil fuels. These assemblies are vapor open, featuring wood-fiber continuous exterior insulation, mineral wool board at interior wall cavities and foundation, and the reclaimed wood sheathing. Photovoltaic panels hidden from primary view provide power for the studio and the adjacent house. The studio design incorporates all of the elements of the firm’s simple, smart, and sustainable approach.

Location: Kittery Point
Architect: ARQ Architects
Construction start: April 2018
Construction complete: August 2018

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