When clients approached Ruhl Walker Architects to design a large Cape Cod residence with a relatively low impact on the fragile coastal ecosystem, the Boston-based architecture firm developed plans for an elevated house created to “curve and shift” with the existing topography. A native and drought-resistant planting plan further blends the new home, named the House of Shifting Sands, into its environment. Rooftop solar panels and energy efficient systems help the home achieve net-zero energy on an annualized basis.
Surrounded by miles of undeveloped Cape Cod National Seashore beaches and scrub pines, the 2,800-square-foot House of Shifting Sands is a year-round beach retreat that enjoys panoramic ocean views and sea breezes. The architects teamed up with Horiuchi + Solien Landscape Architects to create a home and landscape that met environmental regulations set out by the Town of Wellfleet Conservation Commission and National Seashore representatives. The two-story house appears to float above the landscape and comprises a main volume and a separate art/yoga studio connected via a screen porch and contiguous deck.
Cedar shingles and tongue-and-groove cedar boards clad the exterior, while an asymmetrically arcing copper roof tops the larger volume that houses the main living spaces and bedrooms. Glazed walls facing the bay frame views of the water and allow cooling breezes to pass through the home. A 10kW grid-tied rooftop solar array tops both the main house and studio, and coupled with the high-efficiency air-to-air heat exchangers and energy recovery ventilators, help the home achieve net-zero energy over a calendar year.
Images by Jane Messinger