Mottram Architecture Creates Solar-Powered House in Maine With Thermory Siding
Back in 2014, builder Patrice Cappelletti had the vision to buy a parcel of land on the outskirts of Maine’s largest city, Portland, for a new kind of residential development that gave back to the land.
Now complete, the project consists of five homes, each on 1.5 acres of land, as a kind of “solar community” designed by Emily Mottram of local firm Mottram Architecture with Cappelletti and landscape architect Kerry Lewis. The all-women team has created a prototype of US housing with sustainability in mind with a collection of high-performance houses on 25 acres, with the back half of the development conservation land with trails. Located in the affluent area of Cumberland, this concept is the brainchild of Mottram and Cappelletti’s Live Solar Maine venture.
Each of the five houses is designed differently, depending on the clients’ needs, and the fifth (and last) is clad in gray-colored Thermory siding, after Mottram discovered the Nordic product at a local supplier. She wished she knew of it sooner, recalling its ease-of-use, performance, and overall look and feel. “Turns out Thermory is carried at our local lumberyard, which is the best possible scenario for us. We try to buy local wherever we can,” she explained, noting that the installation was a breeze because the boards are sold pre-painted. The Thermory boards are also naturally resistant to bugs and rotting because they’re heat-treated – a perfect fit for Maine’s freezing winters and hot summers.
Construction-wise, the home features double-stud walls that are 10-inches (25-centimeters) thick, cellulose insulation, and ductless mini splits for AC and heat, which are about three times as efficient as standard electric baseboard pumps, according to Mottram. “It’s a super-insulated, low chemical, high-performance home. It’s producing a ton of power because it’s oriented mostly south to take full advantage of the light and power that produces,” she said. The all-electric house, complete with a well pump and pressure tank, is also powered by 24 solar panels on the garage roof and 2 Enphase battery backups.
The result is a two-story, gabled, 2,000-square-foot (1,850-square-meter) residence that has 3 bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, and a detached garage with additional living space. The separate volume is covered in painted pine shingles to match the dark gray Thermory on the main house.
For the four other homes, the first has Hardie fiber cement siding, the second has LP SmartSide Wood Siding, the third features painted natural boards, and the fourth has vinyl siding and natural shingles. Aside from differences in exterior and configurations, all of the homes are designed around an inside outside connection. Not one home looks out onto the other, but instead, large windows frame views of Lewis’ gentle landscape interventions. There are native plantings for a more ad-hoc and untouched feel instead of large swaths of grass, which inhibits biodiversity as a monoculture. For this fifth home, in particular, there are European triple-pane sliders windows and European triple-pane tilt and turn windows.
Upon entering via a wrap-around porch, the interiors present are modern yet classic, from natural wood window sills, natural hickory wood flooring, and bluestone tiles in the entry/mudroom hall. Walls and cabinets range from cool greys and blues and white tones, with white beadboard on ceilings for Scandinavian flare. “It’s a mix between local materials, modern design,” says Mottram, noting that there are also traditional hemlock open rafters and salvaged vintage windows placed inside to transfer light between spaces.