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The eco-friendly home inspired by a treehouse

Sarah Tolle – Homify Canada Sarah Tolle – Homify Canada
Modern houses by JMKA architects Modern
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The architects from JMK Architects base their designs on the concept of architecture being grounded in its place: the natural environment and surrounding landscape are key elements in their designs, as they strive to create structures that respond to their each of their unique natural contexts. The “Oxbow Lane” home that you’ll see in this tour is a manifestation of this context-based architectural philosophy. Situated on a hilltop in Greenwich, Connecticut, this rural home began as an existing modular home from the 60s, re-designed by JMK with the ecology at the forefront. The new layout is characterized by features that connect the building to the surrounding landscape; likewise, the architects have used many eco-friendly building practices and materials that emphasize the importance of the natural environment.


exterior view in the winter Modern houses by JMKA architects Modern Wood Wood effect
JMKA architects

exterior view in the winter

JMKA architects

The hilltop home overlooks a fast-moving stream in the New Haven countryside. The nearby town centre is rooted in history and is listed on the National Historic Register, and the wooded, hilly countryside holds centuries of both cultural and ecological importance. Given the rich context of this home’s environment, the architects have undergone this renovation project with a deep appreciation of the surrounding area, placing a sense of establishment and connection at the forefront of their renovation. The existing home had been built in the 1960s, and suffered from low ceilings, poor insulation, and a closed-off feeling that produced a lack of connection to the outdoors.

​Main floor expansion

The architects removed everything but the foundation of the existing home and expanded the main floor with the cantilevered design that creates an elevated feeling, akin to looking out from a treehouse. New floor-to-ceiling windows also feature prominently in the new home, in an effort to connect every room in the home to the outdoor world that surrounds it. This view in particular illustrates the carefully considered orientation of the home upon the slope, the new floor expansion taking advantage of scenic hillside views.


These elevation views illustrate the home’s expansion; the architects have effectively increased the floorplan of the home to 4,000 square feet while making a minimal impact on the topography of the site through their cantilevered platform design.

​Eco-friendly exterior

exterior view of master bedroom Modern houses by JMKA architects Modern Wood Wood effect
JMKA architects

exterior view of master bedroom

JMKA architects

The exterior materials offer an effortless, natural appearance that keeps a low profile by blending into the natural context. Not only this, but they favor the environment through their eco-friendly production: the roof is made of reclaimed metal made into shingles, with a shell of renewable, non-toxic white cedar acting as an exterior rain shield. The walls feature closed-cell insulation, and the lighting in the interior is all LED, contributing to the sustainable nature of the home.

​Open interiors

alternate view of the media room by JMKA architects Modern Plywood
JMKA architects

alternate view of the media room

JMKA architects

The new open floor plan is filled with light, thanks to the generous array of windows that line the home. Large doorways open up to a cathedral ceiling in the main room, allowing light and air to circulate easily from room to room. A homogenous white oak board floor throughout the main floor contributes to the cohesive, open nature of the space.

​Friendly fireplace

This living room fireplace design offers the best of both worlds: a classic, heartwarming interior environment, framed by stunning views of the forest. Surrounded by glass, this fireplace acts as a central gathering place with a beautiful balance of interior and exterior worlds.

Tour another innovative, eco-friendly home in this ideabook: Meet WaterNest 100: the home that floats

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