How do you make a small house large? One way is to make it spatially flexible. Another is to make it flexible over time. This small house on Cape Cod does both. Designed for year-round living, it is centered on a screened porch which creates opportunities to adapt to seasonal change and to evolving lifestyles. The porch both connects and separates two enclosed structures. Combined, these structures make a three-bedroom home with separate spaces for guests or work. Separated, they make a variety of arrangements, including home-with-office, home-with-guest suite and home-with-accessory dwelling. This allows the building to expand and contract over time to suit the needs of young and old, and of individuals and families. Such flexibility is crucial on the Outer Cape because vacation homes dominate the housing stock and inflate real estate values beyond the means of local inhabitants. Affordable homes, rental units to serve the young and to augment homeowner income, convenient work space, and accessible dwellings for the elderly are all critically needed. Over time, this house can absorb each of these demands.
The screened porch, a time-honored New England tradition, allows the house to expand and contract seasonally. In the summer, the house opens out to the porch, effectively doubling the living area and inviting outdoor dining and sleeping. It is a place to be outside without the nuisances of the outdoors, to be both outdoors and indoors. It’s a place to hear the crickets, feel the breeze, to watch the moon and to feel connected to nature. Adjacent spaces, including a roof deck above and a sheltered patio below, provide options for outdoor comfort throughout the day. In the wintertime, the porch serves as a mudroom and a sheltered entry while the house, enclosed with structural insulated panels, is compact, cosy and inexpensive to heat.
- Completion: 2012
- Type & Location: Single family residence, new construction, Truro, MA.
- Size: 1500 square feet.
- Site: One-acre lot on a wooded hilltop above Massachusetts Bay, near town center. Four parking spaces.
- Program: Includes spaces for dwelling, work and guests.
- Design Challenge: To devise a sustainable housing solution to preserve natural resources and beauty while providing flexible dwelling options for various family types.
- Foundation – CIP Concrete
- Floors – TJIs with Structural Wood Deck
- Walls and Roof – Structural Insulated Panels
- Exposed Beams – Glulam & PSL
- Roofing – EPDM
- Exterior Finishes – CVG Cedar Lap, Cedar Shingle, Marine Plywood with Battens
- Interior Finishes – Fir floor, Painted GWB, Ikea cabinets, Quartz counters
- Site – Walking distance to town center & public transportation; Small footprint & linear septic to minimze hill disturbance; Pervious driveway and on-site stormwater mangement, Reuse of excavation & clearing debris on site, Site restored with native plants.
- Energy – Small, compact floor plan, Natural ventilation using cross breezes and outdoor spaces, Maximize insulation and sealing, High efficiency heating, High performance windows, Low demand lighting (LED) and appliances.
- Materials – Minimize project size and use long-lifespan and locally sourced materials.
- Indoor Environment – Zero VOC finishes, Heat recovery ventilator in winter, Natural ventilation in summer.
Universal Design: Main wing easily converted to self-contained, fully accessible unit.