Parti Shot: K House by CODA

A home, an artist’s studio, a temple, a phoenix rising from the ashes—K House is all of these things. 

And it all started with being in the right place at the right time. Architect and Cornell professor Caroline O’Donnell and her collaborator Dillon Pranger were at a coffee shop one day, working on a book they’re editing about using recycled material in architecture: Design for a Circular Economy, The Architecture of Waste. While perusing research materials, they drew the attention of a customer who had recently lost her log home to a fire. The idea she overheard of doing a “recycled house” resonated with her. 

She had land outside of Ithaca, part of a family property. On a site visit, Caroline and Dillon saw the charred remains of the log home and knew immediately the burned wood should clad the new structure, tying the new to the old. Other material will include recycled windows and denim insulation, reclaimed trusses, mycelium insets, Saratoga tiles made from waste-stream glass bottles, and vintage hardware. 

The building plays with the iconic pitched-roof image of home but is stretched to a cathedral-like peak. The pitch inverts at the rear to capture water runoff to supplement well water. A big open room serves as studio space and a gathering place/bunk room for visiting family and friends; the client has a small sleeping loft above. 

“We listened very carefully to the client,” says Caroline. “She was ambivalent about whether she wanted a house or studio, and she’s interested in spirituality. I think it’s important to try to understand what clients think they want but may not fully know yet. So we designed a house, but not a house.”

Project: K House; architect: Caroline O’Donnell, CODA; collaborator: Dillon Pranger. Renderings: CODA with Dillon Pranger.

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