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Surfside

Countryside
2014 Bulfinch Award

Surfside is a beach-house community on Nantucket’s south shore coastal plane. Houses sit as objects on the plane on largely exposed, treeless sites. This project adds two more objects—a house and a guest house.

Nantucket has an historic review process that is very stringent. The historic review board has a great degree of control over the appearance of everything that is built on the island and can even over-rule zoning regulations. The approval process for this project took a full year and much consultation with the board to achieve a design that satisfied both the board and our client. Often this was as if there were two clients for the house who were at odds with each other. Our client sought a large and fairly formal house with large expanses of glass to bring in the view. The review board sought a small and informal house with traditionally sized windows placed individually rather than in groups. The resulting design solves these seemingly irreconcilable differences.

The historic regulations prohibited a full two-story house, but our client wanted an “upside-down” house where the primary living spaces are on the second floor to better capture ocean views. The quality is unexpected from the first floor exterior, which, with its wrap-around entry porch, looks like the primary living level. The plans are ingeniously organized so that one enters a foyer leading to a sitting room with a fireplace. From here the spaces expand east and south, which contain two bedrooms. The south bedroom has views on three sides, protected by a sheltering porch. Service spaces (garage, laundry, office) are to the north.

The second floor is reached from the entry foyer, up a winding staircase. At the top, one finds an expansive dining room that shares water views through the living room to the south. A master bedroom suite is found in the north wing, projecting slightly to the East where it enjoys water views. These second floor spaces have a cottage feel, with sloped ceilings and dormer windows. Natural materials, such as the pine floors, lend warmth to these light-filled spaces.

The exterior is every bit a good Nantucket neighbor, with its shingled exterior, gable roofs, accretion of simple box-like forms, and shady porches and decks. The guest house, which includes a bedroom on the first floor and living spaces above, echoes the Nantucket design theme.