House and Orchard
Belleville, Wisconsin

gnarly tree with sunset house

This story is of a couple with perseverance, vision — and apple trees. Many hundreds of apple trees.

We first visited in 2003 a beautiful steep valley site that had been farmed many years ago. We found the intriguing wreck of the original farmhouse in just the right spot on the hillside — above a dry wash and accessible from the farmlane that was overhung with century-old trees. Old stone retaining walls and a surprisingly intact stone foundation that we might re-use were further inspiration.

2003 house ruin stone wall

We talked and then we designed a home that we all loved. The design developed from the couple’s desire to re-express traditional rural building forms and massings with a sleek, more modern edge.

Then came the economic downturn. While we all waited, they worked — living frugally, planting trees and more trees, planning, researching and investing carefully. Planting the seeds to grow their orchard business. Check out that story at The Cider Farm website. apple brandy bottle and glass

About a decade after that first visit they finally got back in touch, to our mutual delight. These photos were taken as construction was finishing in mid-2015.

house nesteled into the hillside

Above: View from South. The large roof is arranged for future solar collectors. Southern orientation of all the main living spaces provides controlled daylight and solar tempering to a 2-story-plus living/dining/kitchen space as well as to bedrooms. Carefully sized overhangs and vine-covered trellisses keep the house cool in the summer sun. A lower level walk-out onto a trellised court has one end set into the hill and creates a sheltered, comfortable micro-climate outside for much of the year.

computer sectionAbove: Interior cross-section view showing the wood-and-steel roof trusses and high-performance roof and walls.

Right: The sunny living space flows into dining and kitchen.


great room in the sun

tree-shaded drive

Uphill driveway to the North. The new house sits very close to the origianal farmhouse location.

shady northern courtyard

Stone retaining walls create a sheltered spot. The small corner 'tower' will accomodate a wheelchair elevator.

A seedling-greenhouse 'bridge' connects the house to the garage and, along with terracing, allows the home to traverse the steep terrain.
steel post, wood trellis open stairs and hanging lights curved porch and trellis overhang
Details inside and out: a conversation between hard steel & fiber-cement and the softer textures of wood & stone (the latter re-claimed from existing buildings on site).

house in the valley