A Quarter Century of Craft
25 years and hundreds of successful projects later, we remain committed to design that is lasting and noteworthy, and craft that sustains, inspires and works in harmony with the beautiful, natural environment.
Four distinct houses—designed to meet individual client ideas and site needs, are now being built and landscaped in four different Cape Cod environments.
Net Zero, High Drama
A new house for a special site atop a bluff, with a panoramic view across the bay and of Provincetown’s skyline, is designed around the sun. Our client is seeking net-zero energy use and asked for a design to maximize solar energy collection. The house will not only have a large array of solar panels, but also geothermal heating and cooling. This requires wells to be dug into the Earth to capture a consistent moderate temperature, in addition to the house having extra-thick walls and triple-glazed windows.
This coastal community is one of open, rolling hills, and the houses that exist there are by nature ‘objects.’ The shed roof forms, which make up the bulk of the house, are designed to capture southern sun exposure—and that exposure is to the side of a house that is otherwise oriented toward views to the west. The three-part roof design eventually set the tenor for the whole.
It’s not very common to see a house where contemporary and vernacular styles merge. This house is wood-clad, but not shingled; it has window divisions, but not small panes. The setting—a stark, historic, and highly specific landscape—demands the house itself become a work of art suited to its rare and beautiful environment.
It’s interesting to see how the starting point of maximizing southern exposure for a roof affects the ultimate form of a house with views to its west and north.
Old Village Beach House
This house sits on a dynamic site—that looks out over dunes and to the ocean and also over a beloved historic district. It has contemporary details, expanses of glass, and a large deck on its ocean side but respects its traditional neighborhood on its street side.
It was important for this to be an appealing and efficient house for a few reasons: it was replacing an out-of-character tear-down on an environmentally challenging site, regulations limited the footprint available for construction, neighbors understandably did not want their own views impeded, and keeping within the historic district character was critical.
When designing and building on Cape Cod’s waterfront, there is always at least one regulatory agency involved—and sometimes several. We improved the environmental conditions of the site, situating the new house further from the water than the existing one had been.
We’re team leaders, and have connections with civil engineers, environmental consultants, attorneys, surveyors, mitigation planters, invasive species eradicators, and various other specialists we rely on to help us. We’ve developed quite a permitting network. We also have an in-house team member who works full time on permitting and regulations.
Light From Every Direction
This is a new custom home. There had been an existing house and a smaller, newer guest house on the property: the main house was replaced, while the guest house was modified with a new porch. In addition to serving as the architect and builder, PSD is the landscape architect for the project.
We were tasked with designing and building a house within, and as a new element of, a prime and architecturally established neighborhood. The home we created is very comfortable in its context on an elegant street with grand Shingle Style homes. A house in this location needs to comply with flood zone and conservation requirements. It’s right on the beach, facing south, and must be designed to withstand the elements that such a site presents.
We sought a beautiful street presence. This is achieved by a sinuous shape that offers a very pleasing presentation to passersby, yet one that transforms dramatically toward the beach where it becomes more rambling. A curved gambrel roof and central projecting bay face the road, offering a symmetrical façade. From all sides, this is a contemporary reinterpretation of a classic shingle style home. The house has reinterpreted formal details in its interior, including classically inspired large crown moldings and coffered ceilings. These are designed to be larger than usual—and thus a little more casual—given they are inside a beach house.
People think of the Cape as having a unique character, but it has many different natural and architectural characters. We’re proud of the fact that we can succeed in design work in very different contexts, and at very different scales.
Taking Flight From the Wings
Our charge was to rethink a large, existing house across from the Outer Beach, about two decades old, that had been designed in more of a mountain chalet than seaside style: heavy, timbered, not focused on the water view. While the clients cherished the location, they wanted a house with a different feeling altogether. The issues presented by the house’s two substantial end wings were solvable with some modifications, but the problems with the center of the home required demolition: we kept the foundation and floor deck, but removed the rest.
To design a home that feels intentional and achieves a resolved wholeness, having set out from an existing one. Our approach is for it to appear as a house built over time, with Federal style elements at its core and pieces that intersect with that to achieve a rambling, shingle-style character.
The house is substantial, complex, and focused on craftsmanship. We created a unique arbor, whose arch has a visual relationship to the new front porch, and which leads to an infinity-edge pool that ends on the ocean. The house’s interior involves many special and custom details—including one-of-a-kind newel posts and balusters.
Keeping the foundation and the existing wings made the project less wasteful than tearing down a well-built but unsuited house to start again from scratch. The clients believed that together we could make something special out of it and they were right.