A River Runs Through It


On the shores of the Rappahannock River in Virgina sits a home at the convergence of three landscapes: forest, wetlands, and the mile-wide Rappahannock itself. Baltimore-based architects Ziger/Snead have created a rigorous yet simple home to act as a threshold between these boundaries that both reflects the surrounding environment and serves as a place to reflect on the nexus of three landscapes.



As the home is approached from the parking court, the opaque entry elevation reveals little more than a fleeting glimpse of the cinematic grandeur that awaits visitors once they enter the home. From inside the River House, an unobstructed panorama of the Rappanhannock unfolds through the wall of the sliding glass doors that makes up the building’s North facade.


With its industrial fixtures and understated finishes, the almost loft-like interior seems to be designed strictly as a frame for viewing the landscape.


It was important for the owners to be able to see the Rappahannock from any point in the 3,500 sq ft house and the constant visibility of the meeting between sea and sky creates an omnipresent third horizontal condition between the floor and ceiling – the horizon. Not to be outdone though, the view from the river towards the house is equally stunning. The simple, repetitive forms of the house echo the low, wood retaining wall that sits just beyond the water line.








~ by eaesthete on 03/17/09.

4 Responses to “A River Runs Through It”

  1. Interesting But a bit stark for my taste. I need changing lines views.

    • I’m in complete agreement with you although when you consider it was created as a “second” home, a kind of getaway, and strictly designed as a frame for “viewing the landscape,” it makes greater architectural sense. Apparently, the sparseness is the point.

  2. Ooops… I think my comment about the river house ended up in the wrong place. However, I was thinking that the video on our website shows some of the interiors and exteriors of the building Ziger/Snead designed. http://www.woodbourne.org

  3. Not to worry Pigtown. It gave me an opportunity to rhapsodize on fitting homes for the homeless. This, too, is a splendid edifice and I do love the inclusiveness of the environment in the design.

    To straighten out the confusion, your original comment appears below:

    WOW! What a great house. Z/S designed a couple of the buildings where I work and I have a friend who had them design a kitchen for her. They’re very talented men!

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