Multi-generational Living: North Cove Residence by Wagner Hodgson

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This multi-generational home in Shelburne, VT, used Wagner Hodgson Landscape Architecture’s expertise to provide both common and private outdoor spaces for grandparents, parents, and children: a swimming pool, large outdoor terrace for entertaining, year-round access to the lakefront, and a parking area large enough for company…or grandchildren’s bikes. It was a tall order, but worth the effort: the site, on a 40-foot slope to the lakeshore, has a wealth of mature hickory, maple, ash, and butternut trees. The architects decided to — as they put it — “nestle the two houses into the slope, creating the ability for the architecture to step, providing a logical division of space for the two families to share.” The houses were then located along an arc that mimics the shape of the bay.

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The eastern (or uphill) portion has a common entry, pergola, parking spaces, garage, and a one-story house where the grandparents live. A southwest-facing alcove became the perfect location for a pool, using house and retaining-wall shields to extend the swimming season. Another challenge to this site is that a quarter of it is wetland, with an even bigger part that’s subject to seasonal flooding (not surprising). So, to provide year-round access to the lake — with minimal disruption to the natural movement of water — the designers inserted an elevated boardwalk of galvanized steel and cedar; it extends lakeside terrace walls out to the lake and creates an organic “divider” between the lawn and the wetlands. Colorful plantings along the boardwalk are just a beautiful added “plus.”

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