A quick glance at a road map quickly gives away Truro’s topological character. The words hill, valley, ridge, hollow, high, overlook, and watch are used at least 30 times, about once per square mile. More than any other town on Cape Cod, Truro has a rolling landscape of hills and valleys. Since the Pilgrims landed and “borrowed” the Native Americans’ stash at Corn Hill on the bay side, this landscape has been more than just topography; it has defined character, image, and myth.
Unlike the rest of the region, the Outer Cape has a concentration of contemporary houses to complement the weather beaten vernacular Capes and simple Greek Revival houses. The older homes often were tucked into the valleys to let storms roll over them. When Modernist summer houses began to be built in the mid 20th century, however, for some, capturing views was more important. Hill top land with ocean and bay views became highly desirable. The clients for Ridge Rider have such a piece of land and their goal was to take full advantage of its special character. The design locates every room in the house to capture idyllic views. The living room and primary bedroom have views of the ocean, bay, hills and valleys, and Provincetown in the distance. From these spaces the owners can watch both the sunrise and sunset. The connection to the land, sea, and sky is nearly magical.
The house’s form also responds to the natural context. The land is on a ridge that is one of the highest points on Cape Cod. The main living spaces are on the second floor to maximize view and take advantage of higher ceiling space. The second-floor footprint is bigger than the first floor and cantilevers over it. Whimsical “wave” brackets appear to support the overhanging portions of the building. The brackets and roof shape above direct attention side-to-side and accentuate the horizontal span of the house, implying motion along the ridge. Combining influences from traditional vernacular and contemporary houses of Truro with the hilly woodland topography and ocean-side context led to a rustic contemporary design. The living spaces are open to one another and culminate in a stone chimney crafted by Kenneth Higgins. The stair, a very important circulation space, especially in an “upside-down” house, is centrally located, open to the spaces around it, and designed to combine naturalistic and nautical forms as a unique, dynamic, and playful event within the house. Its wave-top newel posts relate to the bracket forms of the exterior.