The Penn Brook House is an experiment in sustainability for residential design and construction. The existing conditions consisted of a vast amount of asphalt driveway which was paved right up to the sill of the side door. A large lawn area with few plantings made up the balance of the front yard. The design program consisted of the need for a shaded terrace, deck space to join the side and front doors, addition of a vegetable garden, and plantings to screen and soften views to the neighborhood. A major project goal was to use entirely reclaimed materials for the hardscape.
Phase 1 of the project started with the removal of the asphalt drive and replacement with a smaller, permeable surface to accommodate 2 cars. Used granite curbing was used for the retaining walls, broad entry platforms, and planters from the driveway to the terrace. The driveway edges are comprised of reclaimed antique New England cobble from a local farmhouse in Topsfield. The terrace is built of a combination of discarded brick from demolished patios and a ca. 1800 chimney from a neighbor's home.
Phase2 of the project was the incorporation of a pergola built of salvaged historic beams and joists found through our network of contractors and friends. Discarded cedar fence pickets add the finishing touches for the lathing.
Phase 3 of the project is the ongoing planting phase. This year a medium sized vegetable garden (with plans for expansion) was added just outside the kitchen door at the top level of the terrace.
Phase 4, to be constructed, is the plan for a series of rain gardens on the eastern side of the house. Overflow from the rain barrel connected to the downspouts is already piped under the patio to the future rain garden area. This sloped area has already been shaped to consist of 3 depressions which will be planted with appropriate species in the fall of 2010.