small house by Christopher Kilbridge Architect
How do you make a small house large? One way is to make it spatially flexible. Another is to make it flexible over time. This small house on Cape Cod does both. Designed for year-round living, it is centered on a screened porch which creates opportunites to adapt to seasonal change and to evolving lifestyles. The porch both connects and separates two enclosed structures. Combined, these structures make a three-bedroom home with separate spaces for guests or work. Separated, they make a variety of arrangements, including home-with-office, home-with-guest suite and home-with-accessory dwelling. This allows the building to expand and contract over time to suit the needs of young and old, and of individuals and families. Such flexibility is crucial on the Outer Cape because vacation homes dominate the housing stock and inflate real estate values beyond the means of local inhabitants. Affordable homes, rental units to serve the young and to augment homeowner income, convenient work space, and accessible dwellings for the elderly are all critically needed. Over time, this house can absorb each of these demands. The screened porch, a time-honored New England tradition, allows the house to expand and contract seasonally. In the summer, the house opens out to the porch, effectively doubling the living area and inviting outdoor dining and sleeping. It is a place to be outside without the nuisances of the outdoors, to be both outdoors and indoors. It’s a place to hear the crickets, feel the breeze, to watch the moon and to feel connected to nature. Adjacent spaces, including a roof deck above and a sheltered patio below, provide options for outdoor comfort throughout the day. In the wintertime, the porch serves as a mudroom and a sheltered entry while the house, enclosed with structural insulated panels, is compact, cosy and inexpensive to heat.