Westport River House

Westport, Massachusetts
This project page was created by community member Ruhl Walker Architects

Built on a gentle slope on the Westport River, less than a mile from the coast in southeastern Massachusetts is an unabashedly modern glass house designed for a well known Cambridge general contractor and his wife. Mature oaks and cedars define the property edges and frame dramatic sunset and island views. The architecture expresses the owners’ gregarious way of life, and accommodates their passions for cooking and entertaining their large group of devoted friends.

The house is technically a renovation, recycling an earlier faux “Saltbox Colonial” house’s foundation. Conceptually, two long, low bar-buildings float above sculpted lawn terraces stepping down to the river, sliding past each other to enhance views and cross ventilation. The river-side bar has a ten foot high by eighty foot long continuous wall of glass that frames views of the river, while the inland bar is shorter and more solid, with windows opening to carefully edited views of the woods. Between the two bars is a compact circulation zone that terminates at one end in a floor-to-ceiling window facing the woods; the main roof drain is directly above, framing a rain-waterfall that spills into a steel-framed, rectangular bed of river rock in the ground below.

To control costs, massing and finishes are simple, circulation space is minimal and square footage is limited, all spaces are multi-functional, and details are contemporary riffs on traditional New England conventions. The overall openness as well as the large proportion of glazing helps the house feel much larger than its actual square footage. On the upper level is an open living/dining/cooking space, contiguous screened living/dining space, separate exterior decks for cooking and gathering, a home office that doubles as guest room, and a master suite with en suite bath and wall of built-in walnut cabinetry. Newly designed within the existing basement walls are two bedrooms with shared sitting room and bath, as well as a large storage area with slatted walls for boating and beach storage, built below the screened porch.

landscape design: Reed Hilderbrand interior design: Diane Cramphin photography: © Peter Vanderwarker; © Ruhl Walker Architects

Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
Photo Courtesy of Ruhl Walker Architects
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Ruhl Walker Architects
@ruhl_walker_architects
Ruhl Walker Architects For over 20 years we have committed ourselves to creating architecture of all types and sizes for clients not only throughout New England but as far afield as Hawai’i and St. Croix in the USVI. Natural materials, expressive forms, and meticulous attention to light and views have been at the core of our practice and are manifest in our projects regardless of their context. Common to our design process is a commitment to clear and open communication, the careful management of resources, and a fundamental belief that innovative and coherent design is a joyous and essential component of the human experience. With each project we strive to demonstrate that inventive and elegant design is achievable, even within strict economic parameters, by respectfully listening and responding to the client’s needs and desires, thoroughly understanding the nature of materials and methods of construction, and carefully managing the design and construction processes. As part of our client-focused process we use a diverse set of design tools custom tailored to each client − from simple hand sketches to elaborate computer animations and rendered models − to ensure the spatial quality and experience of each project is thoroughly understood throughout the design process. Initiating a construction project can be a daunting prospect, but we pride ourselves on being there for our clients at every step of the way, from helping to identify goals at the beginning of the project, to turning over the keys at the end of construction. We look forward to bringing the joy and excitement of innovative and coherent modern design to your project.
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