House on Harmes Way

Square Footage: 1150 sq. ft.
Date Completed: 2005

Description: The location of this beach house is on a narrow strip of barrier beach, with Cape Cod Bay to the west and marsh land to the east. The owners wished to remove the existing house--an older, single story beach cottage—and build a new two story house that could better withstand the tide, which at times can surround the house. Working closely with the local Conservation Committee, we sought to minimize the impact on the site during construction and also during the lifetime of the house. We removed the existing block foundation and designed a new foundation, taking care not to exceed the footprint of the existing decks. The foundation was fitted with breakaway doors to allow a storm surge to pass through the building. The floor plan and the decks were organized so that the owners could spend their time off of the sand as much as possible without sacrificing their enjoyment of the beach and its views. The surrounding landscape was planted with beach grass and native species.

Inside the house we worked with the environment in a different way. As much as possible, we designed the house to use the ocean breeze off of the bay as an efficient means of cooling. The first floor is open—even omitting stair risers—and has multiple clerestory windows high above the living room floor. These operable awning windows allow hot air to vent out by means of a chimney effect which is augmented on still days by a ceiling fan. Upstairs, the guest bedroom has a window that looks into the clerestory space, not only providing ventilation but allowing views down into the living room. The other bedrooms utilize transom windows to encourage maximum air movement.