As the parent of two teenage girls, planning a weekend retreat home for your family needs to be strategic. The children, now tweens, are saturated with images of cool via cell phones and social media. How is one to compete?

To simplify the ideas swirling in my head, I focused on a simple wooden box which I manipulated to the maximum degree. The push and pull of a simple shape could create solid and void where light and views of the rocky shoreline of the Long Island Sound could be drawn inside. In an effort to keep the box simple, I ordered large windows and detailed a flush installation with the siding. An upbeat happy color palette helps to create the atmosphere of a summer day.

A central breezeway frames the view and provides natural cooling and wind from the sea through the center of the space. Adjacent to the girls’ bedrooms on the second floor is a planted live roof which works as an energy insulator while doubling as a private roof deck for the girls. In fact, all of the rest of the roof is painted white to reflect the sun. The house features an innovative waffle-type radiant heat and air conditioning system that reduces electrical cost on which I worked closely with mechanical engineer to develop. The separate guest bedroom utilizes the same mechanical system to further reduce energy usage.

Connecticut House is SSA’s first ground-up construction and was designed by Principal Julie Schaffer as a vacation home for her family of four.