Architect's passive house design built to reduce eco impact

Built to passive house standards this grand design blends beautifully with its natural surroundings

This 4,500-square-foot modern home (opens in new tab) is built to passive house standards, generates full full solar power and manages site water resources carefully. 

Why? When Jared Della Valle, principal of Brooklyn-based architecture-development practice Alloy (opens in new tab), had the opportunity to buy 11 acres in Cold Spring near his wife Carolina's family, he was excited about building and designing his dream weekend retreat for his family. 

Coming of age in a time filled with great anxiety about our planet, his daughters insisted the house be built with respect for the environment. Jared took their views on board and then some.

See Also: Rewilding (opens in new tab) – The Latest Trend In Garden Design

Alloy Development / Photography: Richard Barnes

(Image credit: Alloy Development / Photography: Richard Barnes)

The family aimed to limit their impact by preserving all natural resources on the site and constructed an indigenous landscape, planting a meadow that fills the surrounding land with native flowers and grasses throughout the year. 

Alloy Development / photography: Richard Barnes

(Image credit: Alloy Development / photography: Richard Barnes)

The cantilever upper floor houses the bedrooms and is designed to provide the optimal sunlight and shade for the living spaces (opens in new tab) on the lower floor. In addition, a two-story deep skylight brings more light to the kitchen area below.

Alloy Development / Photography: Richard Barnes

(Image credit: Alloy Development / Photography: Richard Barnes)

Their choice of materials and details throughout are deliberately simple, local and unfussy in order to focus on the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape and the time spent together.

Alloy Development / Photography: Richard Barnes

(Image credit: Alloy Development / Photography: Richard Barnes)

Inside, the interior design was led by Rebecca Robertson and Yvette Gonzales of RR Interiors (opens in new tab)

A soft yet muted colour palette complement's the home’s industrial architecture. Modern light fixtures from Foscarini and Flos, illuminate the home, while antique furnishings and one-of-a-kind finds provide a foil to the sleek contemporary furnishings. 

Alloy Development / Photography: Richard Barnes

(Image credit: Alloy Development / Photography: Richard Barnes)

See Also: Cool Black Kitchen Ideas (opens in new tab)

Wall art and decor includes: B&W photos by Richard Barnes, and large scale prints of shots Jared took when he and Carolina visited a Carrera marble quarry and a Caribou from Jared’s childhood home.

Alloy Development / Photography: Richard Barnes

(Image credit: Alloy Development / Photography: Richard Barnes)

The outdoor shower is a repurposed steel pipeline Jared found Upstate.

Carolina is an artist and the space includes a separate studio.

Alloy Development / Photography: Richard Barnes

(Image credit: Alloy Development / Photography: Richard Barnes)

See Also: Explore a 1920s-era riverside Connecticut home with relaxed, farmhouse interiors
(opens in new tab)

See more modern homes.

Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites


A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.