The experience of the house is one of spatial unfolding and opening toward the distant views and site beyond. This summerhouse is located at the top of a broad and rolling hill in Aquinnah. It is a windswept, mysterious and elemental site, with ocean views to the north and a heavily trafficked and wooded road to the south.
Because of the property's north facing condition, the project addresses how light is taken in from the south without allowing for the presence of the road. The house is conceived as a series of horizontal planes inspired by the layering of fallen leaves found on the site's ground plane. These layers play gently against each other producing cracks and fissures of southern light and opening the house to its view and sweeping landscape to the north.
Working with the sense of mystery that the site harbors, the house is conceived as a mysterious and unfolding object, an object that one must move around and through to understand. The approach to the house, along the dirt entry drive, winds up a wooded slope. With entry from the south the house blocks the view. The entry stairs spiral back upon one's path, providing a moment of stasis at the threshold.
Continuing up to the elevated living room, the ocean view, which at first is concealed by the mass of the concrete fireplace, slowly reveals itself. The shafts of light that stream through southern clearstory support this sense of tension and suspense. The interior sequence continues the unfolding play of hide and reveal, culminating in a treetop roof deck above the master bedroom. The spaces gradually open up to the land like a flower, and the ocean view is revealed by one's sequential progression up and through the house.
A sloping glass roof overlapping the north wall of the house renders ambiguous the distinction between interior and exterior space. Large sliding doors open the house up to the deck.
The children's bedrooms are located below the main living room floor and open directly onto the great northern landscape and ocean beyond. Ships prisms, like those that one finds on the old schooners on the Vineyard, are scattered amongst the floorboards of the deck and light the stone patio off the downstairs bedrooms.
Such constraints as a 4:12 minimum roof pitch, building height limitations, as mandated by the town of Aquinnah, and a modest budget were included in the design process.