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Cotchpinicut

Countryside
2012 BRICC Award (GOLD)

The property into which this house is nestled is off a winding dirt road in a hilly, remote and wooded part of Cape Cod. The house sits on a knoll at the edge of a salt marsh with bay and ocean views in the distance. Tall trees surround the other three sides. Other than a fisherman’s shack at the water’s edge, no structures are visible from the house. The large overhangs, exposed rafter tails and Gothic tracery of the house recall the sheltering canopy of the surrounding trees. These elements also suggest the architecture of old family camp bungalows in northern New England, and allude to the region’s Gothic Revival communities of the mid-19th Century (such as Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard). Other influences came from 19th Century New England mill buildings and broadly gabled shingle style and arts-and-crafts houses.

The clients were inspired by broad-roofed bungalows in wooded mountainous settings and sought a grand woodland cottage that still sat comfortably on their site specifically, and in the region generally. They wanted a unique house in which their eclectic collections, including modernist paintings, artist-designed furniture and lighting, art glass and hunting trophies could coexist. The grand entry/stair hall is open to an art gallery space on the second floor that is above the porté-cochere and behind the screen walls. The living and sleeping spaces stretch out southeast to northwest, with sweeping views. The jewel-box-like sunroom on the first floor is a getaway at the far corner of the view side of the site. It is pulled away from the main mass of the house to capture direct sun as much as possible and angled in plan to both face an opening in the trees to the view and to highlight the special nature of the space. Because the water view is largely to the north, high windows facing southwest bring natural light into the northeast facing spaces. Throughout the day the interior feels bright and airy, even when it is gray outside. The vertical Gothic feeling of building-supports-as-trees was important in symbolically fitting the large house into its gentle woodland/marsh-edge context. The brackets and soaring Gothic arches of the exterior screen walls, porches, and sunroom carry into the interior as abstracted details in plaster, wood and stone.