Fallen Leaves

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

This summer home is located at the top of a broad and rolling hill in Aquinnah, a small section of Martha’s Vineyard. It is a windswept, mysterious, and elemental site, with ocean views to the north and a heavily used, wooded road to the south.  

The house is conceived as a series of horizontal planes inspired by the layering of fallen leaves found on the site’s ground plane. The roof planes play gently against each other emitting cracks and fissures of south facing light. The experience of the house is one of spatial unfolding toward the distant views. 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 to the deck.

In the elevated living room, the ocean view—which at first is concealed by the mass of the concrete fireplace—is slowly revealed. The mysterious quality of light coming in from the southern clerestory supports the suspense that the house offers, and interior spaces culminate in a treetop roof deck above the master bedroom. The interior opens up to the land like a flower, the ocean view being revealed by one’s sequential progression up and through the house.

The design was accomplished within strict town building guidelines and a modest budget.