Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Contour Project, Blog Series 1.0

Contour Residence Sequential Blog Series 1.0

November 6, 2012

This blog post is the first in a documentary series detailing a featured project by architect Peter LaBau of LaBau & LaBau Architecture and Design located in Charlottesville, VA.

In the early spring of 2010 I was approached by Erin and Michael Contour of San Diego, CA about designing them a new house on a gorgeous 50 acre property on a shoulder mountain facing the Blue Ridge Mountain just south of Roanoke, VA. The views to the south and east from a steep meadow bowl near the top of the property afforded a challenging, but potentially fabulous site for the new house.


Erin and Michael had chosen Roanoke as the location for their next life chapter, after living on the west coast for many years. They brought with them a western architectural sensibility, but fell in love with the vernacular architecture of the Virginia Piedmont area. The house we designed strives to blend a western rustic feel with the flavor of the rural architecture of the Virginia Mountains. The house has been designed as the Contours requested; to look as though it had been assembled from different structures that had been joined together over time. There had been an existing cabin on the property that had been added to in a similar fashion, though the end result was not to the Contours’ liking. Still, the idea intrigued them and came to serve as a guide for the basic massing and layout of the new house.

The exterior of the house was very important to Erin and Michael, and it was critical to them that the siding, exterior trim, and stonework were consistent with the coloration and textures of the site. The idea was to make the house look as though it had literally grown from the landscape. Early on, Erin showed me a photograph of an old barn, complete with weathered siding that she had fallen in love with. As we worked through the design of the house, we kept coming back to that photograph, and I did my best to suggest wood siding materials that might approximate that look. A few months ago an e-mail propitiously appeared in my inbox from the Windswept Weathered Woods out in Washington Sate that showed new/old siding material that looked for all the world like the siding on the old barn in that photograph. I contacted GlenEhrnhardt, the director of business development and marketing Windswept, who was kind enough to send a sample set of his sidings, and Erin and Michael were instantly sold. We’re going to use several of the different colors of the textured siding planks to delineate the different sections of the house, and the Carport that bridges to the house with a pergola.

Construction has begun on the house as of this writing (11/6/12). The foundation is currently underway, and the house shell and interior framing are being constructed by Connor Homes, my friend Mike Connor’s company up in Middlebury, Vermont. Scott Reid and Worth Boone of Worth, Inc. in Roanoke, VA are the general contractors on the job, and are doing a great job of pulling all this together. Completion of the house is scheduled for May of 2013. 

Stay tuned to Glen’s blog site to see it all coming together...

Peter LaBau
LaBau & LaBau Architecture and Design
2079 Hawkshill Lane
Charlottesville, VA 22911
(434) 295-5959