Project Description

Lucia’s Little Houses > House #19

A Mountaintop Tower

A tall building with a tower room and a progression of rooms as you climb higher. The master bedroom suite is upstairs, but it can be swapped for a downstairs bedroom later in life. A working greenhouse makes this a great home for gardeners.

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Small scale spaces and lots of contact with the outside distinguish this house that was designed to sit in a forest of low-to-moderate height Jack pines on a slope above a granite quarry. The site is like a Japanese garden of gnarled old pines with beautiful expanses of bare granite. Our clients, a professional couple, wanted a small house that would be intimate and connected with the natural beauty all around them—and one with enough variety of spaces that they could survive the long Maine winters without tripping over each other.

Being in the trees on the top of a (very low) mountain meant that if we could get a bit higher than normal, we would get a long distance view to the water. I climbed a few trees and surmised that getting up about 20 feet would get us the view without the house sticking out of the forest and shouting too much. This is always something to consider with tall houses: do they have enough of a backdrop that they won’t look silly and out of place?

The living, dining, and kitchen areas are all contiguous, but each has its distinct sense of place, and a different set of views to the outside. On the north side of the house is a downstairs guest suite with a bathroom that doubles as a powder room. The screened porch is on the northwest corner, where I like it because you can see the sunsets in the summer in the northwest. This is when screened porches tend to get used, and on this corner it never shades the rest of the house in the winter when the sun is low in the south and you need it.

The entire second floor is the master bedroom suite, with a stair hall that does double duty as a library/office, and on the third floor is the tower room. This library/office is a good example of expanding a circulation space just a bit so that it can do double duty as something else—in this case as an office that looks down through an interior window to the kitchen and up the narrow staircase to the tower.

The functional program didn’t ask for the tower space, and that’s good because the view is spectacular and it needs to be many rooms, none of which are limited to a specific function.

Back on the first floor, there is a pretty extensive (for a 1,900± square foot house) greenhouse to bring a bit of summer in the long Maine winters. My clients are serious gardeners and wanted a full working greenhouse, rather than a solarium/sun room with a few plants. We still were able to have a window connecting it to the kitchen so the warm earth smells can waft into the house, but it’s still a greenhouse where you can water plants with a hose.

The other tall house in the collection, “A Tall Place at the Edge,” is quite stark and a very simple powerful shape. This house is a collection of forms that culminate in the tower. On the interior, “A Tall Place” has a great deal of open vertical space-you can look up through all three stories. This house fills its internal volume with floor space, so there is less vertical drama, but more privacy and spatial variety.

But both houses need sites that support their vertical nature by providing the right backdrop.

Working drawings provide you with the architectural documentation you (or your builder) need to build this house. Working drawing sets vary for each of the houses. Click here to order.

House Details
Heated square feet. . . . . . . . 1,484
Adjusted sq. ft. . . . . . . . . .1,929
2 – Bedrooms
2 – Bathrooms
Greenhouse Slab foundation

Foot Print 1,698 sq. ft.
View Dimension 58’
Side Dimension 38’
Height 33’-6”

1st Floor 1,244 sq. ft.
2nd Floor 527 sq. ft.
3rd Floor 144 sq. ft.

1st Floor
Living 22’ x 11’-6”
Dining 12’ x 12’
Kitchen 12’ x 12’
Bedroom–1 11’ x 11’-6”
Bath–1 10’ x 6’
Greenhouse 20’ x 10’
Entry Porch 14’ x 7’

2nd Floor
Bedroom–2 17’-6” x 12’
Office 14’ x 5’
Bath–2 12’ x 6’

3rd Floor
Tower Room 12′ x 12′

Working Drawings
• 1st flr. Plan, Schedules
• 2nd & 3rd flr. Plan
• Elevations
• Elevations
• Sections
• Sections
• Details
• 1st flr. Electrical Plan
• 2nd & 3rd flr Electrical Plan
• Foundation Plan, Details
• 2nd flr. Framing
• 3rd flr. & Roof Framing
• Tower Framing, Details