On a narrow irregularly shaped lot fronting Spa Creek in Annapolis, Maryland this house slips between its neighbors emerging buoyantly as it lilts towards the creeks edge. Eschewing traditional ornamentation, the house is formally abstract, modestly scaled and simply clad to resonate with the local maritime culture. Designed for a couple with a passion for art and sailing, the house becomes a canvas for both interests simultaneously.

The house’s preeminent focus is on its promenade and connection to the waterfront. The desire for connectivity is equally about views and physical access. In order to set the stage for this, the program elements are layered across the site with “private” support spaces arrayed towards the street and along the landward property lines. The more “public” living spaces are dispersed closer the water. The functional distinction is made diagrammatically legible through the massing strategy and amplified by material contrast. Support spaces live tightly packed within one of two platonic metal boxes and living spaces are associated with a stepped wood volume, which hovers over the living room and projects out to the water.

The contrast between these complimentary volumes is amplified by the subtle angle with which the wood box shifts to follow the property line, running along the southern edge of the lot. This allows the living spaces on both levels – living room on the ground and master bedroom on the upper – to open up expansively, rendering them spatially dynamic. They seem to break free of the constraints of the narrow lot. Adding to this thrust towards the creek, the volume of the house literally breaks free from the height restrictions defined by local zoning. This allows the roof of the wood box to step up until the master bedroom achieves a lofty vertical proportion. Here the promenade terminates at a covered balcony with commanding views across the creek to Historic Annapolis.

The simple metal boxes containing the support spaces are composed on the site so that one passes through them upon entering the house – as if through a breach in the street edge. The entry is punctuated by a raw steel canopy which links both boxes. The solidity of the larger volume, running along the northern edge of the lot, erodes as it transitions from pantry to kitchen, then to dining, before opening dramatically onto an exterior deck. The upper floor houses the guest suite, laundry and master bathroom.

The smaller of the two volumes, set to the south, contains a garage which accommodates two cars parked in tandem. This configuration minimizes the width of the garage as it faces the street. At the farthest extent of the garage, as it slips under the wooden volume, is an ornamental stair which is both carved from the garage volume and cantilevered out into the living room. The stair itself creates a seam between “public” and “private”, both horizontally and vertically, puncturing the simple southern facade to allow the landing to peak out facilitating unique views of the creek.

Sustainable Strategies:

– High albedo roof w/ hybrid rigid + spray foam roof insulation
– Vegetated roof
– Custom above grade bioretention planters
– Permiable pavers above storm water retention well
– High performance building envelope using FSC certified wood rainscreen w/ hybrid rigid + spray foam insulation
– Passive solar shading through deep overhangs and wood screening
– Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) + high efficiency split system hvac
– Controllable LED only interior + exterior lighting system
– Wetland and steep slope stabilzation through the use of native plantings + the mitigation of non-native invasive species

West Elevation @ Dusk
View from Southwest @ Dusk
West Elevation

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