In this age of rising sea levels and palatial homes overrunning coastal towns while dominating their fragile ecosystems, this more thoughtful house stands out. The modestly-sized house was designed in close collaboration with the local Conservation Commission, exceeds recently updated FEMA regulations, and was designed to produce as much electricity as it uses over the course of a year. Its overtly modern design is more about responding to its rugged site and to its inhabitants’ needs and dreams rather than a statement about style.
Who: an architect and his therapist wife, 2 adult daughters, 1 son-in-law, and multiple foster and adopted grandchildren
What: one large open living space facing the ocean and 7 small spaces that function as sleeping and/or semi-private living spaces. The small spaces are arranged over 2 levels and spread out to maximize privacy despite the house’s relatively compact40’x40’footprint. On the ground floor, an existing crawl space was transformed into a 1000 SF porch that doubles the living space in good weather.
Where: rocky peninsula where a steel coast guard observation tower once stood. Next door is a former coast guard station built in 1888 and the neighborhood is otherwise a mix of quaint wood shingled structures. Just offshore to the northeast is a small island that provides protection from Nor’easters, while due east is a small cove with the open ocean beyond. To the west are views of the quaint, historic town and its harbor.
Coastal resiliency / rising sea levels: The house is designed to exceed FEMA coastal velocity zone construction regulations by raising the main living level 4’ higher than required. The ground floor porch is an added benefit of this strategy and is designed to allow storm surges to flow through unimpeded. The exterior material palette of copper and red cedar was selected to require minimal maintenance and to patina over time to mottled greens and greys that will match the lichen-covered rocks the house is anchored to.
Energy resilience / Net-Zero: The house has a 9.5 kW grid-tied, building integrated photovoltaic system large enough to handle the house’s entire electrical needs on an annualized basis. During the first year -- thanks to unprecedentedhot, dryweather -- the system generated more than 12kW of power, more than offsetting the house’s annual energy usage.
Accessibility: The house had to be completely accessible for a grandson born with a terminal genetic condition that confined him to a wheelchair. Though the house is elevated due to its location in a coastal flood plain, there are no steps required to enter the house and the majority of living spaces are on a single main floor accessible directly from an elevator. Window sills are low so the grandson could enjoy views out and monitor the constant flow of lobster boats. The master bathroom also has an accessible curb-free shower.
Fun details:Daylight enhancement: afternoon daylight is brought into the east-facing main living space by west-facing skylights that bring borrowed light through a 2-story high polycarbonate paneled screen wall.
Solar chimney / outdoor shower: In the center of the house is a solar chimney that enhances natural cooling while also brining daylight into the master bathroom and transforming the shower into an outdoor shower.
Landscaping: existing typically-suburban landscaping was replaced by a rock garden more in keeping with the rugged, exposed site. Native plantings and boulders help reinforce the site against storms and buried boulders and concrete slabs will help prevent scour.
Material Used :
LIVING / DINING:
• Sofa: Moooi “Boutique” w/ Delft Gray “jumper”, designed by Marcel Wanders, purchased from CASA Design Boston
• Wing Chair:Softline “Havana” w/ green felt mélange, designed by Busk + Hertzog, purchased from CASA Design Boston
• Pillows: Norman Copenhagen purchased from DanishDesignStore.com
• Side Chair:Cassina 836 Tre Pezzi, purchased from CASA Design Boston
• Rug:Kurdish, from Ottomania Rug Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey
• Rocking Chairs: Kartell Comback Chairs, designed by Patricia Urquiola
• Floor Lamp:Foscarini Orbital
• Eco-fuel fireplace: Eco Feu Vision bio-ethanol fireplace (on Pangea Home “Lanser” brushed stainless steel bench)
• Artwork: Victor Schrager, The White Room Series, Robert Klein Gallery Boston
• Dining Table: Room and Board Parsons Table, stainless steel w/ etched glass top
• Dining Chairs: Kartell Papyrus Chair,Segis Slide Chair, Heller Arco Chair, Modway Paris Chair, Nuevo Vapour Chair
• Sectional: Expormim Nido Sectional purchased from CASA Design Boston
• Lounge Chairs: Cane-Line Breeze high-back chairspurchased from CASA Design Boston
• Footstools: Cane-Line Divine footstools purchased from CASA Design Boston
• Dining Chairs: Cane-Line Breeze stackable armchairs
• Built-In Tables: Custom, built by Modern Metal Solutions and Skinner + Watkins
• Side Tables: Roberti “coral reef”,Cane-Line On The Go, Vondom Stone, Heller Gehry Twisted Cube
• Swing: Penobscot Bay Porch Swings, “Kennebunkport”
• Rocking Chairs: Crate + Barrel “Union” Rocking Chairs
• Cooktop / DW / Refrigerator / Ovens: Bosch from Yale Appliance
• Exhaust Fan: Elica “Grace” from Poirier Sales
• Countertops: Vermont Verde Serpentine
• Garbage disposal: ISE
• Kitchen cabinets: Downsview
• Kitchen faucet: Brizo Solna faucet
• Kitchen Sink:Blanco from
• Stools: Highline Counter Stools by Seventeen/20
• Bathroom Cabinets: Downsview, Duravit, Rabern
• Bathroom fittings: AxorHansgrohe “Urquiola”, Brizo
• Bathroom fixtures: Duravit, Geberit
• Towel Bars, TP Holders: Hansgrohe
• Shower Drain: Infiniti Drain
• Frameless Shower Hardware: CSL Sydney
• Beds: Room and Board “Parsons Bed” (MBR is stainless steel)
• Nightstands:West Elm (“Metalwork” in MBR; “Mid-Century” in other BR’s); Kartell Componibili
• Dressers: Land of Nod “Wrightwood”
• Table Lights: Pablo
• MBR Art: Chris Becker “Moon Over Atlantic, 2013”
• MBR quilt:Denyse Schmidt Works, 4 Crosses
MISCELLANEOUS INTERIOR FINISHES:
• Steel Stairs: Custom, Modern Metal Solutions
• Interior Doors: Masonite Modern West End Collection “Melrose”
• Flooring: Vermont Plank Flooring
• Hardware: Emtek Hermes
• Insulation: Closed Cell Spray Foam
• Lighting fixtures: RAB, Marset, Perhacs Studio, Artemide, custom
• Paints/stains/wall finishes: Benjamin Moore
• Elevator: Hoyt Elevator
• Translucent Polycarbonate in LR/DR:ePlasticstwinwall polycarbonate panels
MISCELLANEOUS EXTERIOR FINISHES:
• Exterior Siding: Copper, red cedar
• Roofing: Carlisle EPDM, copper
• Skylights: Velux
• Windows: Kolbe Vista Luxe Accent Plus
• HVAC equipment: Mitsubishi air source heat pumps
• Heat Recovery System: RenewAire
• Tankless water heater: American Water Heaters
• Solar energy system: Sunpower E20/327 solar panels w/ Solar Edge inverter and Unirack mounting system
• Backup Generator: Kohler