A facade with a tree-trunk hue of weathering steel cladding

Grow Box is a 185 m2 home in Lexington, MA, designed by Merge Architects for an MIT University Professor, his wife, and their young son. The landscape surrounding the house is elaborately planted, with over 40 different varieties of Japanese maple trees painstakingly cultivated and maintained by the clients.

The extents of the existing gardens limited the footprint of the new house, and inspired an architecture that utilizes landscape to affect space that expands beyond the physical limits of the house. The resulting design is a compact volume penetrated by slot gardens and entry decks that both define space within the house, and erode the boundary between interior and exterior.

The slot recessed gardens are organized geometrically by a central courtyard garden that contains a single Himalayan birch tree. This garden, which will collect rain in the summer and snow in the winter, underlines one’s experience of the elements as the literal and metaphorical centerpiece of the home.

On the interior, each room is paired with at least one garden, the deep recessed rectangular proportions of which allow the clients to visually inhabit the garden while maintaining privacy from the neighboring houses and adjacent street.

On the exterior, the intriguing visual contrast between the crisp geometry of the house and the sinuous landscape is both enhanced and obfuscated by the tree-trunk hue of the weathering steel cladding. Large areas of glazing surrounding the slot gardens and floor-to-ceiling windows reflect the surrounding trees and plantings, further blurring the distinction between architecture and nature.








Design and info © Merge Architects

Images © John Horner

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