This house defines the edge of a precipitous embankment, one that drops steeply down to Blue Hill Bay. The environment, though bold, is extremely fragile and heavily susceptible to erosion. Anchored by a series of piers pinned to ledge beneath the beach, the house is elevated above the ground and flood plain, allowing the terrain to be stabilized below. A series of seawalls define a terrace while providing a means of adjusting the inclination of the bank.
The volume of the house was governed by zoning regulations which limited the maximum buildable envelope based upon a grandfathered structure that was present on the site and its proximity to the water. This led to a bipartite massing aimed at distributing the majority of the allowable volume to the main living area overlooking the water all while keeping the scale of the structure relatable to the surrounding buildings. In the main space the roof was pitched to the south to capture daylight and filter it deep into the house, simultaneously providing passive ventilation through high clerestory windows. The clerestory, in conjunction with skylights and large operable doors and windows at the floor level, allows the house to remain cool without air conditioning.
It was a critical project requirement that the home engage the water both visually and physically. From inside, unobstructed views are achieved through floor to ceiling glass, allowing the expanse of the bay to act as backdrop to the activity inside. At high tide the water comes under the house providing a sense that one is floating above the sea, lending a feeling of tranquility to the space above. Below, a set of stone steps from the terrace descends to the beach and into the water at high tide, providing immediate immersion into the sea.
Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture, Becker Structural Engineers, Peter Knuppel Lighting Design
M. K. Purvis Construction