Our work as architects is often an exercise in patience. A well-considered house doesn’t happen overnight. Before even picking up a pencil, we spend a lot of time getting to know our clients—listening to their needs and wants, visiting their existing home, walking their unique site. The getting-to-know-you doesn’t end there; we are continually learning about our clients through the evolution of the design and construction process, which typically takes a year each. When the house is finished, the paint is dry, and the clients have moved in, we often need to wait until the landscape has filled in and the season is right before photographing it. (Here in Maine, that often means waiting until a beautiful summer day, which can feel like an eternity in the dead of winter.) By the time the photo shoot has happened and the images come back from the photographer, it’s often two years or more since that first meeting with our clients. And then, in the final act of closing out a project, we post it to our website, happy and thankful for our clients, proud of our work, and ready to share it. In that spirit, we are excited to share one of our recently completed projects, Englishman Bay Retreat.
North of Acadia National Park, Englishman Bay is known for its rocky, rugged coastline and pristine natural landscape. An undulating shoreline made up of protected coves and calm waters makes this area a favorite among sailors and kayakers.
On a stunning coastal site with dense woods, our client would often walk from his family’s camp through the spruce and birch to a secluded pebble beach, over time wearing a path under the canopy of trees. Decades later, with young children of his own, he approached us to design a home for his family along the same well-worn path he traversed as a child summer after summer.
Our site-specific design perches the home on steel columns that lightly touch the moss- and rock-filled forest floor. This treehouse-like posture allows for better views of a protected cove on one side and open ocean with a distant island lighthouse on the other. The use of natural materials and ample glass gives it a transparent nature, camouflaging it within the trees and allowing it to unfold gradually rather than reveal itself all at once. The design preserves the pattern of use the family had established from walking between properties over many years and brings the path inside so that the house becomes an extension of it.