There are times when a site is so perfect, so breathtaking, there is nothing for an architect to do but surrender to it. Such was the fortunate predicament Boston-based Peter Rose + Partners faced when asked to design a vacation house for a young family on Chappaquiddick, an island off the Massachusetts coast. Located on a bluff, the western edge of the property faces the Atlantic while the east end looks out toward the protected Cape Pogue Bay. Between those radically different sandy borders sit four acres of thick forest.
Rose had designed two other houses on Martha's Vineyard—to which Chappaquiddick is connected—that caught the owners' attention. “His houses fit perfectly into the landscape, but there is a complexity to them,” the wife explains. “They are modern, but with a warmth and a humble quality.”
The architects set out to make this island retreat permeable. Clad in cedar but built with steel that is expressed inside, a series of column-free pavilions feature expansive windows that open completely, eroding the barriers between inside and outside, between architecture and landscape. Sea grasses cover the flat roofs, one of several sustainable design strategies. Local craftsmen constructed the windows and the 11-foot-long teak dining table Rose designed.
The plan is organized around two axes perpendicular to each other. The longer one separates the bedroom wing from the public living spaces and extends outside to the garage in one direction and a beach stairway in the other. “The house feels infinite,” says Rose. The shorter axis divides the kitchen from the living room and culminates in an outdoor terrace between the dining and breakfast rooms—each slightly askew from the house's orthogonal geometry to better capture views. On the opposite end, a dramatic stair leads to lower-level bedrooms built into an existing hollow.
Rose worked with landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh to delicately wind the driveway between the oak and pine trees. According to Rose, “We wanted to set something on the site that takes advantage of views and breezes with a light a touch.”
Gross square footage: 6,300 square feet
Completion Date: July 2012
Peter Rose + Partners
319 A Street, Suite 3C, Boston, MA 02210
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Sliding doors: The Parry Window Co.,
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Floor and wall tile
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