House on the Outer Cape
House on the Outer Cape
6,000 square feet (interior)
7,600 square feet (perceived)
Brian Vanden Brink
John DaSilva, Polhemus Savery DaSilva
As conceived by Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders, the House on the Outer Cape incorporates the footprint of an existing ranch house and attached garage that sat at an angle to the house. We added onto the existing footprint at the opposite end from the original garage. We used the landward inflection of the original garage footprint and the new garage addition to imply an entry court on the street facing side. This semi-enclosed space is shielded from the heavy wind (and wind driven sand) that comes off of the ocean and beach at the back of the house. This sense of enclosure and protection, along with a tower marking the entry, are at once dynamic and welcoming elements in the harsh but spectacular context.
The owners requested a house that incorporated architectural features like turrets, balconies, dormers and nautical references. We strove for sleek and contemporary versions of these features as a part of a locally appropriate beach house aesthetic. The resulting hybrid is both historicist in its forms and contemporary in its detailing. The outer Cape is the only portion of Cape Cod with a great tradition of contemporary architecture. Marcel Breuer, Serge Chermayeff, and other mid Twentieth Century modernists, peppered the dunes and woods of this region with contemporary gems. The often brooding quality of the weather-beaten landscape was a major influence on these architects and on us. The painter, Edward Hopper, was also attracted to, and was a great interpreter of, this landscape. Some of his greatest paintings were done on the Outer Cape, where he lived and worked during the summers of much of the mid Twentieth Century. We sought to incorporate the quality of the landscape into our design, much as he did with his paintings.
The house sits totally exposed on the top of a bluff that has no trees, only windswept scrub brush that is hearty enough to survive the harsh environment. All exterior surfaces of the house are grey. The form is tough and aggressive. There are sharp angles to slice the sky, big overhangs to shield the sun and create deep shadows, and broad, but flat detailing to hold its own in the intense surroundings. We hope the house is, like the location, compelling because of its bold and dynamic (as apposed to quiet and restful) character.