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Cape Cod Houses: Shingle-Style

At the other end of the size spectrum, the Marshview Guest House near Nantucket Sound is a “small house with big scale,” an airy getaway with curves and nautical themes, and a view to the 300-foot-long footbridge that crosses to the House on Harper’s Island, the client’s main house, off the Chatham coast. The latter presented PSD with multiple challenges, most notably restrictions of height and the original footprint of two 1940s “kit” houses. The result of working creatively within those restrictions is a modern, glowing house that shines like a Japanese lantern and tips its hat to Frank Lloyd Wright. “There are specific challenges in designing for the Cape,” DaSilva explains. “There’s the historical context to consider. Almost every project involves historical review boards, conservation commissions, or both. The client wants one thing; the review board wants something else. It’s up to us to find a solution that satisfies both.”

And then there’s the matter of the view and the light: “Most of the houses are on the water. Aside from the technical challenges this poses, most of our clients want plans that are organized around maximizing the view. The best plans, however, take great care to maximize the light throughout the day. A conflict often results, and part of the architectural solution is to resolve that conflict.”

But when it resolves, the results are everything: sweeping vistas, inside and out; houses alive with details and light. “The thing our clients share is an interest in having a special place,” DaSilva says. “Some of our house clients are quite wealthy; some have more modest means. But each still wants something that’s unique to his or her family.” He pauses, then reflects: “A summer house is more a frame of mind than a seasonal place. It’s the embodiment of a relaxed attitude, that’s what it is.”

SLIDE SHOW: Cape Cod Houses

Updated Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
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