An Architect’s Home

Location: Biddeford Architect & General Contractor: Caleb Johnson Architects & Builders Structural Engineer: Structural Integrity Consulting Engineers Landscape Architect: Richardson & Associates Lighting Designer: Greg Day Lighting Construction start: Spring 2016 Construction complete: Fall 2016

The Drawing Board – December 2015


In his time as an architect, Caleb Johnson has come to believe that what matters most is the human experience contained within a home. “Memories of places and the loved ones in those places become highly valued in my clients’ lives,” he says. “People will go to great lengths to recreate their own memories and to give their family memories a similar quality. As I listen to what people tell me, I have noticed that when the senses are involved these memories stick and people feel more strongly about them.”

Johnson designed his own family home to open up to the quiet forest in all seasons and to blend the home’s visual interest as well as auditory, olfactory, and tactile experiences with those found in nature and the landscape. The floor plan is designed for socializing and focuses on the proximity of different family members at different times of the day, giving options to be together or apart.
In the first phase, Johnson’s desire for clean lines and low cost won out over expressing texture and life’s complexity. In the second phase, modern architecture and the highly textured and handcrafted features of traditional architecture found a place in the same structure, decades and centuries overlapping.

“This design is not a stylistic pursuit but a search for authenticity on all levels,” says Johnson. Walls of glass are bordered by hand-carved and gilded exterior trim, while slender steel columns holding heavy traditional beams with carving will symbolize the family’s life together in pictures and symbols. The exterior will be of charred Maine cedar, and the entire building will be as locally sourced as possible.

An exterior reflecting pool will show the movement of the wind and give the sparkle of light on the ceilings and throughout the property. Roof-fed cisterns will gently release trickles of water to give a calming atmosphere outside and in.

“Life is unexpected, complex, and beautiful. Good buildings have always expressed this in their own quiet way,” says Johnson. “It is this search for a genuine expression of life that keeps my days interesting.”