Concept Design Completed in 2010
This design study for a new private residence examined a series of options for sensitively integrating a complex of structures totaling 6,500 square feet including a main house, guest house, garage, pool and pool house on a twelve acre wooded property located on a dramatic point of Maine’s rocky coastline. Central to the study was a desire to preserve the natural beauty of the varied and heavily contoured site. Core design principles included: develop the existing clearing in the middle of the site comprised of meadow and wetland to serve as a natural “threshold” one passes through on the way to a final destination; acknowledge and enhance the powerful threshold qualities of the existing granite ridgeline defining a “pedestrian-only” preserve by keeping cars on its west side; limit major site transformation and building and landscape investment to the previously de-forested landscape between the ridge and coastline; locate buildings between the intimate scale of the forest floor and the large scale of the river, where the intimate programs of the house should be scaled to and come in close contact with the “still life” compositions of ledge, moss, trout lilies, saplings, etc. whereas the more “public” programs should celebrate the drama and excitement of living along a broad saltwater river; and preserve the intimate points of contact with the water’s edge, promoting view from the house but taking care to avoid overwhelming or radically transforming the water’s edge with the imposition of a major building or complex of buildings looming above.
Three options were developed based on the principles outlined above but deploying the program in very different ways. A courtyard scheme organized the program around an outdoor pedestrian courtyard creating a formal precinct serving as a strong counterpoint to the site’s varied topography and forest setting and providing a powerful point of arrival and a meaningful gathering place for the family and their guests. Arrival to the court is provided via pedestrian pathway from a parking court occupying the ridgeline’s existing saddle with a pool and sauna serving as an initial landscape element focal point upon arrival. In contrast to the courtyard house, the bar house de-couples main house and guesthouse programs with the main house situated perpendicular to the existing ridgeline and the guesthouse program located north of the main house, defining one edge of a new parking court just over the existing ridgeline. Under a single roof form, the main house takes advantage of the sloping terrain conforming to the fall of the land and creating a progression of interior spaces that move from the intimacy of the forested ridgeline to the drama of the property’s river views. The third option considers a wholly unique and memorable entry sequence through the existing ridgeline and granite outcroppings with parking area and guest house on the “public” east side of the ridge and the main house occupying the “private” west slope and connected via a pedestrian path through a rift in the existing ridge. This entry sequence is designed to heighten the sense of passage from one realm to another, with a forced, “Petra-like” compression between the carved stone walls of the densely forested entry walk and the dramatic discovery of spacious living areas and water views upon arrival to the main house.