Whole Systems Studio-Shop

WSD headquarters at the Whole Systems Research Farm is housed in a dual purpose design-build space that manifests the best in sustainable ecological design and construction. As in the farm landscape, life and work in a space of our own design allows the constant testing of the design approaches and materials used.

Photos of the studio and its construction process are available here.

The structure is timber-framed entirely from lumber that has been horse-logged from the property's 4 acres of woodlot. The envelope is R40 cellulose with Larson truss framing. The roof is 150 year lifespan Vermont black slate with copper detailing, interior finishes are clay plaster, cherry trim, beech floors, no VOC oils. The building enhances the productivity and enjoyment value of its surroundings through climate enhancement. For more information on the building's design details see below.

The building serves as an inspirational setting for design and construction activities and for hosting meetings with client groups. Tours of the studio-shop are available from time to time. Please see the Visiting Deans Mountain Farm page for more information on tours.

Selected design aspects:

  • Site Integration: Micro-climatically integrated within the landscape for optimal heat gain in the cold season (in a warm sun-trap immediately north of a pond).
  • Passively Survivable/Failure Proof and Ultra-durable: Vermont-sourced slate roof, white oak sills, quarter-sawn clapboards, cedar trim, careful water detailing at all junctures, large overhangs, landscaped for drainage, solar access and air-flow.  Simple, low-tech failure-proof systems like wood stoves, manual windows (no cranks).  Can be completely liveable with no electricity, utilities, through major storms, etc.
  • Undervalued Materials Use/Materials Optimization: Poplar (aspen), red cedar, 2-sides milled posts (see images), character-marked beech flooring, and 2” x 3” pine for Larson truss wall framing add value to underutilized forest resources.
  • Edibly-Landscaped: Hardy kiwi-vine cabled on south side for food production on sunny façade.  Hot-loving plants and season-extended growing in the warm south-side garden beds
  • Site Harvested Materials: Composed of site-harvested timbers for: timber frame (100%), roof sheathing and exterior wall sheathing (100%), sub-flooring (100%), wall (Larson truss) structure 2” by 3” studs (98%)
  • Local and Sustainable Materials: Locally-sourced (within 40 miles) clay plaster, quarter-sawn spruce clapboards, beech hardwood flooring, interior pine paneling. Regionally-sourced (within 100 miles) roofing slate, white oak sills, cedar trim. No drywall/gypsum wall board used in the entire construction.
  • Passively Heated: Engineered for maximum cold season heat gain with south facing glass and optimized overhangs/eaves for summer shade. Minimal north-facing windows.
  • Super insulated: Detailed insulation features including Larson Truss walls with thermal break.
  • Enhanced Indoor Environmental Quality: No VOC finishes throughout – tongue/citrus oil wood finishes, negative ion – emitting ½” clay plaster interior, white oak sills (no pressure treated used in the construction), no gypsum board used in construction and 95% reduction in particle board/plywood through rough sawn use entirely. Natural daylighting via windows and pond-integration (see below).
  • High Electrical Efficiency: Daylit with pond-site integration creating 2-sun-effect from reflection which lights the ceiling of the studio space. LED lights throughout (95%) of light – entire studio lighting consumes 75 watts of electricity.