A micro home uses windows to maximize light and define space
Sited atop a gently sloping meadow with a clear view of the iconic Camel’s Hump peak in Vermont, the 430-square-foot Micro House is the small home that doesn’t feel small at all. Challenged with creating a tiny, beautiful, energy-efficient full-time home on an equally tiny budget, architect Elizabeth Herrmann jumped at the opportunity. But rather than build a home driven by its diminutive size alone, she sought to design a residence with all the spatial variety and interest of a much larger home. Most importantly, it had to feel inviting, warm, spacious and playful, and never like a dull, claustrophobic box.
Due to the small footprint of the home, window size and placement played a very important role in opening up the plan and giving each space its own distinct identity. A variety of window shapes, sizes and types were utilized throughout to respond to both function and views. “I love the range of window sizes that Marvin offers,” Herrmann said. “I like to really fine-tune window sizes. So it meant a lot to be able to find exactly the right sized windows for this home.”
Vertically oriented casement windows and horizontally oriented awning windows change in size and focus to respond to the surrounding landscape, framing tightly edited views. A long, narrow window catches the ridgeline of the mountains beyond. Square awning windows in the kitchen allow for beautiful natural light, incredible views and invite in the fresh Vermont air. At the heart of the house, a large picture window frames breathtaking views of Camel’s Hump. This very deliberate approach to view framing provides each room a unique vantage and connection to the outdoors, while giving the floor plan definition and a sense of place, without being static or confining.
With so much glass in such a small space, it was important that the windows be extremely energy efficient to insulate the interior living spaces from the harsh, unrelenting Vermont winter. “Energy efficiency plays an important role in a small space, especially with a window as big as the picture window,” Herrmann explained. “Vermont winters are long and deep, so comfort is a big deal. A big window in a small space that isn’t efficient can make it feel doubly uncomfortable.”
While the broad range of sizes and energy efficiency of the windows were certainly important factors in leading Herrmann to choose Marvin Signature Collection windows for this project, flexibility of design was another.
“They have a flexible aesthetic,” Herrmann said. “They make a lot of things happen. They can group big windows together. They can build staggeringly huge windows. They have the flexibility that a lot of other companies don’t have to realize these special designs. Basically, if I can come up with it, they’ll make it happen.”
Marvin Architects Challenge Award Winner
Architect: Elizabeth Herrmann, Elizabeth Herrmann Architecture + Design
Photographer: Jim Westphalen