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Entrant Name
E. Cobb Architects

Design Team
E. Cobb Architects - Eric Cobb, Josh Johns

Collaborators
Landscape Architect: Alchemie Consultants: Harriott Valentine Engineers Inc., Structural Engineers Harriott Valentine Engineers Inc., Civil Engineers Geotech Consultants Inc., Geotechnical Engineers Franklin Engineers, Mechanical Weatherholt and Associates, Envelope consultant Contractor: Holyoke Fine Homes Ohashi Landscape Services

Owner / Client


Beach House

All Submissions > Scale 2: Building Scale

This south facing beach is where the owner grew up vacationing every summer. As an adult, ready to build his own vacation home, design priorities were clear: a strong beach connection, comfort, an understated outward expression, high durability, exceptional energy efficiency, capacity for children and grandchildren, and highest quality detailing and execution.
The design took shape through a close collaboration with a builder (also the owner), an architect, a landscape architect, and an interior designer.
Connecting to the beach with a series of layered landscape elements, an outdoor room is the core of this house. With shelter, fire and a concrete table positioned just high enough to overlook the shoreline, the simplicity and honesty of materials connects to the nature of the beach.
Interior broad living spaces open directly onto the outdoor room on the water side. Service supporting spaces are positioned beneath the main level accessible by the lower yard to the north.
Given the highly corrosive salt water environment and anticipated periods of use, the energy source selected was a ground source heat pump system. 4 deep borings with circulating loops deliver a consistent 52 degree ground temperature, feeding a heat exchanger. This system provides hydronic heating throughout the concrete slabs in the house. Since completion in March, gas and power consumption for this house has been a fraction of the utility cost (per SF) of the typical adjacent beach cottages.
The house assemblies are simple, honest and exposed. Floors are polished concrete slabs. Ceilings are exposed structure: solid wood decking and beams. Wall paneling, cabinet doors and faces are made from solid wood boards (not plywood veneers).
The exterior materials are durable cement fiber panels, ipe decking and siding, zinc fascias, and marine grade coated metal roofing.
Given the close proximity of neighbors and the nature of the small beach community, landscaping plays an essential role here. Together with the built form, the landscaped spaces and plantings modulate privacy and community engagement. Working in relatively small areas, this landscape knits the site into the local grasses and wind-swept shrubs on the water side. Shore Pines (dwarf and standard) provide low screening for the outdoor room, while maintaining shared water views from either side of the house.