New England Vacation Home Emphasizes Island Breeze and Spectacular Views

Four structures situated on a wooded strip of Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts celebrate their stunning natural surroundings.
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Emerging gracefully from an overgrown meadow on Chappaquiddick Island near Edgartown, Massachusetts, a family vacation home by Peter Rose + Partners is bound to the local flora and fauna through smart design decisions. When presented with the project, principal Matthew Snyder says he set out to create a serene place for the active family of five to "experience an extraordinary environment, be held comfortably, and then move out of the way to allow the environment to be experienced directly."

Exterior walls are clad in an sealed, unpainted western red cedar to mirror the colors of the site’s tawny meadows. As the wood ages naturally, it appears as though it emerged organically from the earth.

The 6,000-square-foot main residence is the focal point of the site plan, which also includes a 630-square-foot-garage, 130-square-foot boat shed and 270-square-foot storage shed, all of which blend seamlessly into the site and offer views of Nantucket and Cape Pogue Bay to the east. The project earned Peter Rose + Partners an Honor Award for Design Excellence from the Boston Society of Architects for 2014. 

The house is oriented to maximize views of the ocean and Edgartown to the west, and Nantucket and Cape Pogue Bay to the east. Natural sea grasses sourced from the surrounding area cover the roof of the building, providing thermal insulation while also dampening the noise of rain, improving air quality, and helping to manage rainwater flow.

Inside, windows are strategically oriented to harness the power of fresh ocean breezes as a cooling device, reducing the need for large HVAC loads and maximizing areas where natural light can be used to illuminate rooms. The chimney centerpiece is clad in Vals Quartzite, a hard stone that provides a moment of cooling visual contrast in the otherwise warm living room.

To further connect the indoor spaces with the New England landscape outside, glass walls in the living and dining areas slide open to eliminate the barriers between indoors and outdoors. Green slate tiles compose the flooring inside.

The dining area sits adjacent to the kitchen, defined by three glass walls that open the room completely to the elements, while the roof still provides shelter and shade. A long, family-style dining table made by Larry Hepler anchors the space.

Durable Douglas fir tongue-and-groove planks add warmth to the interior areas. The boards expand and contract with the seasonal humidity in a way that’s not readily noticeable, meaning the interiors will last for generations without bearing obvious signs of aging.

The abundance of windows in the design help break up the visual scheme of the rough-hewn wood façade, creating a visual line of sight through the house itself and furthering the connection to the views beyond.

At night, subtle light fixtures provide soft ambient light. The lights "as discrete as possible, and aimed at the surfaces of the house, defining space and creating the kind of three dimensional modeling that is easy for the eye to interpret," Snyder says. "It is relaxing, calming, provides plenty of light to live, and as much as possible eliminates visible bright hot spots or illuminated fixtures that call attention to themselves."


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