February 2017—Balsam Mountain Preserve, a conservation-oriented residential community in the Blue Ridge Mountains, has hired Atlanta-based architectural firm Harrison Design to design a collection of 23 cottages that will serve as the residential component of a planned mixed-use improvement called “Double Top Village.” The firm Founder and Principle Bill Harrison and Project Architect Emily Tuttle are designing the cottages, which will range from one to four bedrooms.
In addition to its Atlanta headquarters, Harrison Design, considered one of the leading custom-design architects in the U.S., has offices in St. Simons Island, Georgia; Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, California; New York City; Washington, DC; and Shanghai, China. Since its founding in 1991 Harrison has focused its design approach on adapting classical architectural forms to the needs and desires of contemporary luxury living.
In its approach to the cottages at Double Top Village, Harrison is working in close collaboration with Asheville-based land planner Vision Design Collaborative and Atlanta, Georgia-based clubhouse architect Kuo-Diedrich. The overarching goal of Double Top Village is to carve out a mixed-use community gathering place that is in keeping with the overall ethos of Balsam Mountain Preserve and its dedication to the environment. Set in a prime location within the 4,400-acre Balsam Mountain Preserve, Double Top Village is named for the site’s panoramic view of two nearby peaks that form part of the Plott Balsam Mountain Range.
“The goal is to create a village concept with a strong residential component,” said Bill Harrison. “After our initial discussions with the community developer and with Vision Design Collaborative and Kuo-Deidrich, we were so impressed with how well thought out and communicated Balsam Mountain Preserve is and how Double Top Village fits into the larger community. We instantly knew it was something we’d be proud to be associated with.”
The typical house created by Harrison Design is large, which presented a welcome challenge for Harrison and Tuttle since the average footprint of the two- to four-bedroom cottages is considerably smaller than their usual residences. “The goal is to create a collection of cottages with highly functional spaces in a style and level of quality in keeping with the refined modern-rustic aesthetic exhibited by existing structures at the Preserve, which will also be reflected by the new village clubhouse,” says Harrison. “The idea is to intelligently maximize use of space so that the cottages ‘live’ much larger than you would expect from the amount of square footage.”
Another guiding principle driving design throughout each village structure is how interior and exterior spaces seamlessly communicate, in essence bringing the outdoors in. Each cottage will embrace that design consideration through the use of ample windows, open floor-plans, integration of natural materials that predominate in local vernacular architecture, and doors that open to outdoor living spaces such as porches. While luxurious, the cottages will embrace the philosophy demonstrated throughout Balsam Mountain Preserve emphasizing a casual, friendly and nature-oriented lifestyle that favors a relaxed, comfortable sense of community over ostentation or pretention. “The wow factor is what nature provides,” said Tuttle, noting, for example, that the high-quality interior trim will be simplified to reflect a mountain cabin aesthetic. “The cottages, along with the other structures in the Village, are designed to frame, rather than dominate, the view,” Tuttle adds.
“Designing these cottages to fit so seamlessly into this village, the larger community and the environment presents a unique opportunity,” said Harrison. “Here the property itself is the guide. The site is dictating to us how to design these cottages rather than us imposing our will upon the land.”
To inquire about homeownership of a cottage at Balsam Mountain Preserve, call their sales office at (866) 452-3456 or visit