Brian Vanden Brink
Associationism in architecture is the idea that qualities from objects can be transferred to—and expressed to the viewer through—buildings. Architectural theorist Charles Jencks and artist Madelon Vriesendorp famously showed how buildings could be coded to have such association with a pine cone, or a tri-corner hat, or Marilyn Monroe’s billowing skirt, or more. Applying this fascinating idea to a relatively modest house is fun and yields a design that is a pleasure to see and to use. Different people will make different associations (tug boat, tea pot, duckling) but nearly all will feel the urge to smile.
High Point sits at the crest of a neighborhood that slopes gently up from Nantucket Sound on the south side of Cape Cod. Peeks of the ocean are visible from the first floor and yard. A panorama is visible, in some cases over the rooftops of lower houses, from the second floor. The master bedroom occupies the spot on the site with the best possible view. Its projecting bay window sits partially over the screened porch below, which also projects to receive three sun and air exposures. The dramatic cathedral ceiling along with the view from the wrap-around windows give the bedroom the feeling of being on the bridge of a grand ocean liner, even though the exterior form of the house is like a more modest tug boat.
Except for the projecting porch and bay, the plan is a simple rectangle, with small front and side entry porches cut into it, and topped by a dramatic gambrel roof. A curve in one portion of the roof is small in extent but big in impact on the character of the front façade. A chimney pipe near the stern—err—back of the house is surrounded by a cylindrical wood and copper stack.