Grow Box is a single-family home whose name refers to its container as host for a growing garden and family. Sited on a verdant plot in Lexington, Massachusetts, the footprint of the house was limited by the clients’ carefully cultivated and maintained gardens. While compact in massing, the architecture utilizes landscape to affect the perception of space as extending beyond the physical bounds of the house. Perhaps paradoxically, this expansive effect is achieved by further eroding the box volume with a series of six recessed gardens. 

Each of these exterior incursions negotiates a new relationship between programs: bed and bath, kitchen and living, upstairs and downstairs. The spaces create a curious form of connection between family members; spatial buffers that permit visual continuity yet social separation often desired as children gain independence.  

The planted slot subtractions are organized in a three-dimensional pinwheeling manner about a central courtyard that contains a single Himalayan birch tree. This ‘landlocked’ garden, designed to collect rain and snowmelt, places the experience of the elements as the literal and metaphorical centerpiece of the home. While a concrete plinth and elevated entries on each facade seem undertones of a Palladian villa, the asymmetric composition of operable windows, garden slots, and central court communicate a far more reciprocal than hierarchical relationship between house and garden. On the exterior, the disparity between the house’s orthogonal profile and the sinuous landscape is both enhanced and obfuscated by the raw hue of Cor-ten steel panels. Glazed openings surrounding the slot gardens reflect the surrounding trees and plantings, further blurring the distinction between architecture and nature.

In its contrasts – between hard and soft, artificial and natural, indoors and out – and congruities – between weathered steel and tree trunk, formal and informal, indoors and out – the Grow Box takes root in the garden.

Merge Architects Inc.
332 Congress St. Floor 6
Boston MA 02210


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