When a family with a love for boating purchased property on the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Maryland, they turned to New York-based Bates Masi + Architects to bring their maritime home to life. To reinforce connections with the waterfront, the architects crafted a home that combines contemporary elements with rugged and locally sourced materials to reference the working harbor. The residence, named the Acton Cove House, also boasts a high-performance structure and sustainable features that earned the project LEED Gold certification.

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home near a dock and water

Located just steps from the water in downtown Annapolis, the Acton Cove House replaces a 1970s house that came with the property. During demolition of the previous house, the architects discovered layer upon layer of old bulkheads and fill that showed how former owners had expanded the site into the harbor. The layered construction became a major inspiration for the design of the new house, which layers modern insulation, glazing and building systems together with a series of traditional materials.

Related: Northwest Maritime Center Achieves LEED Gold Certification

two story home is illuminated by interior lights with a dock beside it

“The new design configures layers of site features and envelope elements to provide privacy and weather protection, while encouraging connections to the outdoors,” explain the architects in a project statement. “The materials of the various layers reflect the character of the working harbor. Weathering steel planters reference sheet pilings. 3×14 reclaimed heart pine siding is reminiscent of heavy timber bulkheads. Oversize silicone bronze screws, left exposed to fasten the siding, are pulled from the ship building industry. Woven rope and sailcloth details draw on local crafts.”

home near a dock and water
interior of home with wooden floors and walls with stools

The layering effect begins with the bulkhead, which is covered with a new ipe boardwalk punctuated with stepped weathering steel planters. Ipe reappears as fixed screens on the facade of the house, protected by deep overhangs, cantilevered decks and balconies, as well as operable canvas drapes that can be pulled along a continuous track that wraps the entire perimeter to provide privacy. The full-height glass doors are also operable and pocket into the walls to blur indoor and outdoor living. The last layers of operable screening include interior linen drapes and roll shades.

+ Bates Masi + Architects

Images by Michael Moran

large windows let in sunlight into the interior home with wooden floors