Add-on: A two-phase competition for a freestanding, affordable, ACCESSORY dwelling unit on Cape Cod, 2013
This competition came to my attention two weeks ago by chance. While reading a book on Craig Ellwood’s life as a Modern Architect, I came across a reference to a house Marcel Breuer designed in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. It happened to compare the somewhat un-orthidox use of field-stones in in both houses fireplaces, both built in the 1950’s modern style. This reminded me of the other modernist houses built on the Outer Cape in Massachusetts, I had a admired while driving, biking, and walking the National Seashore Park since youth.
There is a restoration effort currently underway to save many of these dwellings from the McMansion ball. An online search brought me to the Cape Cod Modern House Trust run by Peter McMahon. Started in 2006 its mission is to save as many of these houses as possible. The trust, based in Wellfleet, is finishing up restoring the third of seven beach lifestyle houses they currently own. Not having visited these projects in person, I do not have images posted and do not reprint them without owner permission and credit. To see and read more about these cool Cape Cod Modern Houses visit http://www.ccmht.org which is where I found out about the Add-on 13 Competition see addon13.blogspot.com
With only ten days notice, I entered the competition to design an 800sq ft affordable house on a sandy bayside lot in Wellfleet. It was a great exercise to start and finish a house design so quickly with so much detail. Many times forcing myself through decisions at certain points in the process, knowing changes make the project unravel with no time for recovery. The competition asked for a concept, not detailed house. It was difficult if not impossible for me to separate the formal gestures from the functional necessities. Understanding the structural framing connections and how that effects the ceiling heights and sheathing method is especially important in a small building. This structure will also dictate inside wall options and limitations, which of course provide privacy and circulation inside and out . Is a house design which must be modified severely to inhabitable a viable concept? Is a house design entirely prescribed on the first try the best idea?
Hoping to visit the Cape this Spring to visit as many of these houses as I can with my new wide angle camera lens!