Stilt House

Client: Private Client
Date: 2014
Role: Architect
Location: Marshfield, MA

The clients for this project were looking for a place to retire – a place where they could have family come to stay, but that would be comfortable for them year round in this coastal climate. They were looking for that elusive combination of open, flowing spaces with spaces to get away with a book, or watch a movie, without being in the middle of a hive of activity. They added ample outdoor living space, access to views of the marsh and the ocean, and a first floor master suite to their list of desires for the project. They had owned this property for several years, and been vacationing in an existing house on the lot – and were ready to rebuild their dream house.

The project had several important, and impactful, constraints: first, the house had to be lifted 9′ above grade to comply with new flood safety codes. Second, because the existing house straddled the 100′ wetland boundary, the new house had to occupy the same exact footprint. And finally, the height restriction enforced by zoning would make adding a second floor challenging, after factoring in the 9′ stilts. We wanted to make sure the volume and height of the house were not overwhelming to the surrounding neighbors, most of whose houses are not on stilts…yet. So, we used a series of rooflines inspired by Cape Cod vernacular architecture to help mitigate this, and we nestled the second floor into first floor volume, rather than just extruding the entire first floor.

One of the best parts of working with this client was their nuanced understanding of the climatic drivers of the site. They knew which parts of the day were too hot to occupy certain parts of the existing house, and which windows they would open at what times to capture sea breezes. We designed the house around these concepts, as well as the clients’ vision for living a coastal lifestyle in their retirement.

This project is currently under construction.