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We already rounded up the best of the best from Marvin Windows & Doors’ 2013 Architect’s Challenge, but one of our favorites—and the standout Judge’s choice —was Folly Farm. Located in Boulder, CO, Folly Farm was spearheaded by Dale Hubbard of Surround Architecture, who took great pride in not only developing a custom home for his client, but creating a space that was able to capture the benefits of indoor-outdoor living.
I spoke to lead architect Dale Hubbard about Folly Farm’s unique design and Marvin Architect’s Challenge.
DM: What about Folly Farm works with or is inspired by the surrounding homes and town aesthetic?
Dale Hubbard: Boulder’s development as a town occurred in fairly recent history—mostly the latter half of the 20th century, so the homes have eclectic styles that are all across the board. This is actually a wonderful environment to be an architect, because it reinforces client, and site-driven design, and allows us to be more innovative from project to project. Folly Farm is in a residential neighborhood with extra big lots that has a uniquely rural feel, so this spin on the agrarian settles quite well into its landscape.
DM: Folly Farm is a hybrid of traditional and modern architecture. Why did you take this approach for this particular project?
DH: The opportunity to create this hybrid of styles presented itself when we had young clients who wanted a modern design, and at the same time, something that would maintain its appeal even as design sensibilities changed over time.
DM: Many of your other projects seem to have this traditional-meets-modern style as well. What about this type of architecture appeals to you and how does it fit into the Colorado area and landscape?
DH: When we look at the homes that have appeal that has lasted for multiple generations, it is usually those that reference time-tested geometries in some fundamental way. Folly Farm and other Surround projects have taken shape as a distillation, or abstraction, of these geometries. This is one of the ways we answer the sustainability question in the design and construction industry today. Buildings that people love are well-maintained, weather changing fads in design, and last a long time.
DM: The home is broken up into distinct “sections” on the exterior – how do each of these function on the inside?
DH: The design for Folly Farm draws from an historic agrarian style where, over time, occupants would build and attach a new building as the need arose. There is a nice purity to this approach. The architecture expresses the program both on the interior and the exterior of the spaces. This is what creates these interesting “sections,” or layers that are a response to different uses. Each of the geometries of Folly Farm has a particular use or function—some areas are for activity, others for repose—and the connections between help transition between those functions.
DM: In the video [scroll down to view], you talk about Colorado as being a place where you can experience indoor-outdoor living, thus the expanse of windows. Having never been to CO, my outsider perspective is that it gets very cold! Can you tell me a little more about the energy efficiency of the design?
DH: In the winter, it does get chilly, and it’s important that the architectural design functions well under the huge range of temperatures we experience in Colorado. Folly Farm, like all of our designs, has very high energy performance—at least 40% better than those generally required by international building construction codes. To achieve this threshold, we can only specify high-performance windows and doors, and we design for very high insulation values and tight construction techniques in the building envelope. We prioritize southern exposure for the glazing to maximize light, and minimize heat gain and loss. We lay out each space to take advantage of natural daylighting, so the windows cast light deep into the space and cut down the need for artificial lighting. We often receive the feedback that Surround projects are very comfortable to occupy both in terms of temperature and lighting.
DM: Does the home have any sustainable features or eco materials?
DH: One of the materials we utilized quite a bit in this design is beetle kill pine. It is both a regional product, and a useful way to utilize a waste stream. All of the interior wood is beetle kill. Outside, we used recycled snow fence material, another regional product, which has weathered to a beautiful silver color. When selecting materials, even those where it is not possible to find a regional or recycled product, we choose durable, beautiful materials, with the intent that the architecture will weather well, and stand 30, 40 or 50 years from now or more and still be valued by its occupants. Designing buildings for longevity is one of the best ways to keep building materials from ending up in landfills.
DM: What were some of the challenges with Folly Farm?
DH: We tend to design projects that challenge builders to construct something in a way they may have never done before, which is something we encountered with Folly Farm. This takes a high level of communication, both in our drawings and on site, to achieve the desired result. We strive to be on the cutting edge, from the products we specify to the computer software we use to deliver the information, so this is a challenge we readily take on, and even enjoy in our office.
DM: How did you feel when you found out that Folly Farm was named the Best in Show in Marvin’s Architect’s Challenge competition?
DH: We felt honored to receive recognition for Folly Farm! We put a lot of thought into each one of our projects, so it’s nice when that energy is recognized in the finished product.
Check out this video featuring Dale Hubbard and get a closer look at Folly Farm:
Photos by Emily Minton Redfield.