Skip to content

Abiding by the tide: Continuing the traditions of Modernist architecture on the Outer Cape

Abide by the tide, Indian Summer 2004 Cape Cod Home |

Available views of Wellfleet Bay called for this impressive wall of windows in the living room. Motorized awning windows at the top allow sea breezes inside. To the right is the first-floor office space, which also offers water views. Photograph by Terry Pommett

Hammer, who recently helped Truro’s Castle Hill Center for the Arts plan a modern house tour on the Outer Cape, was not alone in imagining the possibilities of a modern house. The owners, both of whom are writers well acquainted with the arts and architecture, were open to Hammer’s Modernist preferences.

Outside, the modest stature of this 2,000-square-foot island retreat reveals a conscious respect for the surrounding natural landscape. The reddish-brown tone of the cedar clapboards softens the home’s geometric exterior and blends seamlessly with the scrub pine surroundings. “That’s the idea: that it just grows up out of the landscape,” says Hammer.

Since building codes regulate the insulation value of a building and thereby its allotment of windows, Hammer was forced to place windows selectively. By limiting the number on one side of the home, he was able to include more in areas with the most scenic vistas. Window density culminates in the expansive, two-story living room. Initially, the owners worried that the large quantities of glass would leave them feeling exposed, but living there has assuaged any concerns. “The proportions are so good, or so right, that it feels quite cozy even though it’s a very open space,” they explain.

By opening the living room upward and outward, the wall of windows not only takes advantage of available sunlight and the view, it’s also an integral part of the home’s ventilation system. Since the home would not be outfitted with air conditioning, Hammer decided to take advantage of prevailing southwesterly winds. His design called for a series of motorized awning windows on top of the wall—protected from the elements by the roof’s overhang—that open to provide fresh breezes all summer long.

The living room’s overall design provides enough intimacy for two and yet the capacity for many. To a great extent, the room’s spacious feel is a product of not only its nearly 20-foot-high ceiling, but also its openness to the dining area, kitchen, and, surprisingly, the master bedroom on the second floor.

Initially, the master bedroom was intended to act as a more closed environment than its eventual loft style layout. “First we planned on a wall between the bedroom and living room, then a large interior window, and eventually we settled upon a simple railing,” remembers Hammer. Viewed from the first floor, the bedroom is visually private from all angles, and a canvas curtain can be brought down to soften the light and dampen the noise if necessary.

You might also like:

Latest Editions

  • Stay Connected

    Sign up for our newsletter
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.