House of Shifting Sands
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“Ruhl Walker Architects imagines a home tucked into the dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore, and Sea-Dar Construction develops it with comfort, conviviality and creativity for family and friends.”
Nestled into the windswept dunes of Wellfleet is a structure that might otherwise go unobserved due to its natural tendency to appear as though the drifting sand had unearthed a treasure lost by a previous owner. At first glance, this modern, warm and intricate house appears somewhat unassuming and reticent among its surrounding environment. Yet only moments later, when your eyes have adjusted to the shapes of the home’s exterior, the features begin to unveil themselves in various depths and contours that confirm each design decision as not only being deliberate but inspired. Designated the House of Shifting Sands, it is located on the lower slope of a dramatic 60-foot coastal bank overlooking Cape Cod Bay and Provincetown, and boasts expansive views of miles long, undeveloped national seashore. Its purpose remains to serve as a year-round retreat that satisfies the whims of family members regardless of their age or agenda. Just how it does that is something of a marvel.
At the very heart of it all is the land, which usually only exists in dreams: a parcel consisting of several acres and surrounded by thousands more that will remain untouched. The lower portion of the property is beachfront where ruins of a previously existing structure linger, a victim of Mother Nature, a sometimes punishing force. It is the tumultuous environment as well as specific town and coastal regulations that determined the location of the house, which is set back from the effects of tide and storm and at a higher elevation, providing both coastal security and an expansive view. To help pinpoint the exact site and position of the house, principal architect Will Ruhl, and the design team at Boston-based Ruhl Walker Architects, invited the clients into the mind’s eye of the project.
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