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Kernan Tea House

Branford, CT



Featured: The Owner Builder Network

Project Team: 

Naomi Darling - Principal 

Edward Stanley Engineers LLC - Engineer

Green Homes LLC - Builders

Darrell Petit LLC - Granite Slab

Jason Sibley / LIFT DESIGN - Steel

Sean Kernan - Photography


The Kernan Tea House is a collaboration between architect, client and site to create a meditative landscape experience that capitalizes upon the existing conditions.  


The site is a high point at the eastern edge of the property.  The area is anchored by a large boulder to the east, a stand of bamboo to the north and a busy road to the south.  The visitor to the tea house takes a meandering path, the raised roof beckoning.  Beyond the red feathery spray of the needle leaf maple tree, exposed granite ledge and bamboo grove, the tea house comes into full view, a destination within the landscape.


Three stone steps across the moss lead to a large granite entry threshold.  The granite is Stony Creek, transported to the site directly from the local quarry.  The structure itself is untreated aromatic cedar, notched together and naturally graying, with a salvaged standing seam metal roof.  On the east wall is a long low window framing a view of the boulder, its hulking mass silent and majestic.  The south wall is translucent fiberglass paper with an exterior screen of bamboo that was harvested on site.  The wall screens the road while allowing the south light to cast vertical shadows echoing the rustling bamboo in full view.  To the west is a sliding wooden panel, counter balanced by an old hitching stone that moves to allow a view to the sky or garden.  The tea house is a place to pause, reflect, listen, touch and observe.

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