Photography by Robert Benson

Located in a tidal estuary, Trolley House sits on a narrow piece of land created to support trolley tracks to a now-long-gone amusement park. It’s also a case study in design that brilliantly acknowledges and incorporates nature, spatial limitations, site history, and the owners’ unique personalities. 

Norwalk, CT

Beinfield Architecture


LaCantina Aluminum Controlled Sliding Door System

Best of LaCantina 2018 Best in Show / Overall Winner

Photography by Meg Matyia

First, the history: Trolley House is located on a 25’ wide by 500’ long spit of land that extends into the Farm Creek tidal estuary. The site was created by fill in 1894 to support trolley tracks over the channel to a major amusement park nearby on Long Island Sound. A 1938 hurricane destroyed the historic park, but photographs remain, showing a series of spirited barnlike structures intertwined with a wooden rollercoaster with expressive diagonal bracing. 

The exterior design of the house honors that heritage as well as fostering an intimate relationship with the estuary environment and the wildlife that inhabits it.  

Photography by Robert Benson

The main part of the house — a 16’ by 75’ rectangle — is carefully balanced on concrete piers that allow flood waters to pass underneath. An exoskeleton of lateral bracing covers shutters that protect the large glazed surfaces from storms and provide additional insulation on winter nights.  

The street façade is whimsically expressed as a simple barn, with salvaged siding recalling a past life and intentionally masking the building’s age. 

Photography by Robert Benson

The entire east wall of Trolley House is comprised of LaCantina Aluminum Thermally Controlled Sliding Glass Doors, which drench the interior of the home in natural light every morning and perfectly frame hushed views of the Farm Creek estuary and the greater Long Island Sound.  

Inside, heavy timber beams and raw steel, concrete, and copper surfaces endow the place with industrial strength and organic warmth.  

Plus, a dynamic “dialogue” throughout the home reflects the owners’ sensibilities: an underlying order (thanks to him, an architect) upon which is layered the beautiful chaos of life (thanks to her, the artist and collector). 

Photography by Meg Matyia

In a limited space, Trolley House cleverly nods to a colorful local history, opens up to a unique natural location, and lets its functions dictate its forms. Truly a one-of-a-kind home — and we were delighted to be a part of it.