An island retreat.
Harbor Point is a wild place. At the northern reach of Casco Bay, the island offers resplendent southerly views and extreme privacy. On peaceful days, the breezes are pleasant and cool. Those same winds can become torrents that batter the coast and its occupants. Even the osprey nesting on site takes cover. It is not to be conquered, contained, or tamed but must be appreciated with deference. We began this project with that realization, and the following decisions reinforced our desire to respect this place of great beauty.
Escape to the wilderness.
From the moment you step on the boat that will take you from the mainland, you are knowingly entering into a place where humans are guests. Once on the island, a narrow road carries you toward the house, and the rest of the world falls farther away. At the island’s tip, a small meadow opens, and the ocean’s sight, smell, and sounds envelop your senses.
The landscape becomes the art on the walls.
The organization is structured around a large exterior deck that serves as the communal heart of the project. It is the connective tissue where destinations radiate outward to both buildings, the rocky coastline and tidal pools, the meadows, the forest, and the path to the dock. Stepping off the deck onto the weathered ledge, you are immediately immersed in the island and all its wild beauty. Stepping back onto the deck, you get the sense that you’re still in the landscape rather than on it. This connection is so moving; you feel the island’s heartbeat outside and inside the buildings.
The architecture is simple in form to contrast the wildness of the site. The building is not a statement; but rather a basic notion, the most primitive and fundamental idea that a shelter is a series of walls with a roof. The building geometry is radial, addresses the panoramic views, and mimics the striated formations of the craggy ledge that was formed when the last glacial maximum retreated around 20,000 years ago. Concrete piers allow the building to gently float above the ground to preserve much of the existing landscape. In the event of a substantial weather event, water could flow under the building. A high-performing envelope with a solar array and thoughtful exterior detailing allows the use of expansive glass while preserving comfort and building efficiency. The interiors were designed to continue that connection to the outdoors.
Design Team: David Duncan Morris, Jason Colpitts, Caleb Johnson
General Contractor: Woodhull
Build Team: Leon Genre, Tony Pierce, Peter Floeckher, Nate Blake, Butch Mockler, Dana Cinq-Mars