In 2003, Hurricane Isabel tracked up Chesapeake Bay bringing high winds, historic flooding and building damage to many low-lying tidewater areas. Located on an island near the mouth of the Potomac River, this 110 year-old iconic waterman’s cottage and out-buildings were flooded and severely damaged. Although it would have been simpler, faster and more economical to demolish, the clients, who in this case were also the architects, believed that the original structure offered a great character to the island it was decided that the bones of the old cottage were worth saving and re-purposing. Much of the house was constructed using salvaged materials including the attic floor which was from the deck of an old Skipjack.
Phase One - Completed
After many alternative design studies that would have significantly enlarged the home, it was determined that the simplicity and efficiency of a small cottage was far more desirable than square footage. The design challenge was to maximize architectural aesthetics and functionality within the original building footprint of only 750 square feet to and make
the whole greater than the sum of the parts. The owners, both passionate cooks, desired a professional kitchen that would overlap with dining, entertaining and living functions while not overwhelming the living space - all within a 14 foot by 23 foot plan.
The house was lifted above the 100-year FEMA flood elevation and fully modernized. Some of the latest energy efficient techniques such as on-demand hot water and a geothermal HVAC system were integrated into the new designs for the old cottage. Additionally, original exterior siding was salvaged and re-purposed for interior ceilings.
The floor plan was simply reorganized around an axial “alee” from front door to back door, visually extending like an arrow shot through the house to the pier beyond reinforcing spatial separation of kitchen and living functions.
The kitchen design was inspired by an imaginary Chesapeake Bay “fish camp” cook’s kitchen with functional open shelving. Materials were inspired by classic copper cookware, fabricated of raw steel tubing, stainless steel and copper. In order to keep the lines of the kitchen as visually simple and open as possible, the refrigerator, wall ovens and washer/dryer were located out of sight, in a walk-in pantry.
Phase Two – Construction Beginning 2014
Because of its proximity to the water, permitting for rebuilding of the outbuilding involved obtaining an absurdly contorted variance to the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area. Connected to the house by an elevated boardwalk, this new outbuilding will complete the project. A “dogtrot” passage will provide a covered entrance and allow the boardwalk to extend the alee axis, pass through the building and connect directly to the owner’s pier. This new structure will accommodate boathouse storage and a small studio. Inspired by the adjustable ventilation of Maryland tobacco barns, siding will be a combination of rain screen and operable louvers to control shading of direct west sun.