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Demetriades + Walker

Demetriades + Walker

by KATHRYN BOUGHTON

The town of Salisbury has a history that stretches back to the early days of European occupation of North America. The Dutch began to work into the territory along the Housatonic River as early as the 1720s, moving east to escape from the tyranny of tenancy on lands owned by the great Dutch Patroons.

The Dutch were quickly subsumed into the English invasion of the 1730s when the regional towns were sold at auction by the Connecticut General Assembly in Hartford and, to this day, the architectural heritage of local towns bears the stamp of those early inhabitants, English and Dutch.

But time stands still for no man, and today there is a new architectural wind blowing across the ancient land. A local leader in the movement toward modernization is the firm of Demetriades + Walker, which moved from Tribeca to the Lakeville section of Salisbury some 15 years ago.

The firm, which primarily creates residential structures is “spirited by an innovative approach to modernism and site integration,” according to its website.

Elizabeth Demetriades, one of its partners, does not like labels, however. “I don’t even like to say the work is modern,” she said. “I would say I like to think of our work as timeless. I spent a number of years living in 200-year-old house and I appreciate traditional architecture but I don’t feel it’s appropriate to reproduce the architecture from a bygone era. We don’t do any type of historical reproduction work. You won’t find any Ionic columns in our work.”

Instead, she and her partner, Patrick Walker, and the three architects that work with them, are guided by the site for a proposed building, the client’s needs, the neighborhood, and sustainability.

“We like our work to be responsive to the site,” Demetriades said. “We like it to be innovative. Each design is very different from the next. Every client is different and is looking for a different type of response. Every site is very specific. I think our clients choose to work with us because we are different.”

Different but not outrageous. She said the firm’s architects are “often inspired by agricultural buildings” because of “their strong forms that respond to the climate we live in. Farm structures can be a good jumping off point.”

In designing a new home, Demetriades says she likes to work with the “choreography of light, color and spatial progression.”

“It’s exciting for us to work on a project,” she said. “Every project is a fresh start. It’s important for our projects to be innovative and sustainable.”

To that end, Demetriades + Walker selects “materials that are as local and sustainable as possible.”

“We work toward sustainability, creating buildings that require less maintenance and that are sourced locally. Most of our projects are double-wall homes and triple glazed—energy efficiency is important. We try to approach zero net energy use whether we offset it through solar or geothermal.”

She said the geographic range of their work extends from southern Massachusetts on the north to the Adirondacks in the West and the Connecticut shoreline in the south. “We cover a pretty good range,” she said.

They also cover a range of designs to meet clients’ needs. “Most younger clients want smaller houses,” she said, “but we also get a lot of larger projects. And the house has to be sympathetic to its neighborhood.”

She referenced a house the firm designed for a pond-side site in Hartland. “It’s about as traditional as our work gets,” she said. “It’s located on a pond and can be seen in relation to other buildings. It had to be sympathetic to the neighboring buildings and had to relate to the site. Inside the spaces are very open, very modern, very fresh but from the outside it doesn’t scream ‘modern.’ We wouldn’t want to build something that is not [appropriate for] the neighborhood. We want something that feels specific to the client, that is open to them.”

Demetriades + Walker has been recognized in numerous publications and has received multiple awards, including two AIA Design awards. It is located at 11 Brook Street, Lakeville, CT 06039; 860-435-0800. Please visit the link below.



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