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House of Shifting Sands

House of Shifting Sands, Early Summer 2017 Cape Cod HOME |

Despite the home’s modern interpretation, it is warm and welcoming for the owners, their family and a long list of guests. Photo by Jane Messinger

The imposing glass windows stretching across the main living areas of the home are continually subjected to fierce winds off the coastal waters of Wellfleet. Although fairly impervious glass was used, a system of rolling metal home shutters was designed to protect and preserve the house now and in the decades to come.   

A critical focus for the clients as well as the architects and builders was the notion of family and the partial goal of a camp persona. Accordingly, hidden structures are interspersed throughout the site. A need for rest and relaxation is met with a bedroom deck offering a hot tub and hammocks in a gnarled oak grove. Convenience dictated outdoor showers near both the beach path and the main bedroom, and a small hill-top shed with an espresso machine encourages working without interruption. Unexpected and inspired choices spawned elements like a remote deck providing a stable foundation for beach camping in tents, a half basketball court dug into the hill, and hiking trails for the young and old. All of this incorporated into the overall plan of how this property might be enjoyed by a variety of guests. Last but certainly not least, for bonding and laughter, two separate fire pits set in sandy sitting areas, and a shady dining area for large gatherings below the raised main deck, ensure that when the crowd is large and special, the home can meet the challenge.

Landscape architects Horiuchi and Solien of Woods Hole pulled the diverse elements together with the surrounding landscape, as they sought to marry new and old. This fragile eco-scape benefited greatly from a uniquely close collaboration between the homeowner, the architects and the landscape architects. Horiuchi and Solien blended the natural topography with its new native and drought-resistant landscape, with the hope that over time, it would grow back tight to the house as if both had always been there together.

The House of Shifting Sands is truly where creation and evolution come together to create the magic that only pure balance can achieve. This house in all its simplicity and intricacy is now inextricably connected to the people who live in it as well as the beach, dunes and land where it perfectly sits.

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