Barrel Vault Quonset Hut is both a container for living and lesson in patience.

Sam and Eva purchased the land in Accord, New York in 2008 with the intention of building a house. After selecting an architect and house design the economy turned and forced them to abandon the project. Determined to use the property as their Brooklyn escape, Sam and Eva camped on the property for years, caring for the land and using the outdoors as their home. After transitioning to a small shed with a compost toilet and outdoor shower, they decided to restart the building process on a tight budget by first purchasing a prefab steel Quonset hut and assembled it as an open barn. Later, the gable walls were constructed, followed 4 years later by the interior build out, transforming the open steel shell into an eclectic home suitable for their vintage collections.

The prefab steel shell panels, purchased in Virginia and shipped to New York, were erected in 3 days on the concrete slab. The enclosure a given, Coughlin Architecture approached the project with the mentality of a building inside a building.

The program was assembled and packed inside the barrel vault shape, keeping the ground floor kitchen, dining and living spaces open and public to the windows and land, while stacking the bedroom and bathroom and storage up top, under the curved shell. The stairs, the loft and the shutter polycarbonate windows allow users to experience the tallness of the space.

The white voluminous interior space is lit naturally by the east facing window wall. Consistent with the exterior, the interior is simple and with a simple industrial aesthetic. White corrugated liner panels form the interior shell enclosure. Stained concrete floors, black steel railings and polycarbonate walls give the house a raw three-dimensional composition.

The desire for a low energy home lead to the decision to heavily insulate the steel shell with closed cell spray foam. Heating was incorporated as a simple radiant concrete floor and wood burning stove which alone keep the house warm in freezing upstate winters.

A simple red kitchen is tucked below a master bedroom in alignment with a dining area. The interior space is fittingly a simple container for the client’s collections of vintage furniture, action figures vinyl and neon.

The Hut sits prominently above a manicured rock garden overlooking a dense forest. The utilitarian steel shell has a distinct mechanical presence in contrast with the forest. Inside, the stained concrete floor and corrugated white barrel vault creates a forced perspective to the green forest landscape.

Photography by Jenny Gorman

Design Team: Paul Coughlin, Brian Thomas

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