Parti Shot: Cape Cod House by Messana O’Rorke

“This is not a mega-mansion on the beach,” says architect Brian Messana, AIA. Instead, the architects’ inspiration for the vacation house on 2 acres overlooking Cape Cod Bay was “Asian fishing traps.” Wooden, weathered, and practical, they capture what’s of value and filter out what’s not. That’s the goal of this deceptively simple building—to pare away all but nature’s nourishment.

The basic bar plan positions two nearly identical primary bedrooms at either end of an open great room. A small “bunkhouse,” placed roughly front and center of the great room, creates a protected entry point for the house, shielding it from strong coastal winds and rain.

Cedar fins wrap the house, becoming alternately screen, shade, and pergola. “Like the fishing trap, we had this idea of a double skin that would allow filtered light and air to pass through the house,” Brian explains. “We wanted to use wood to replicate in a modern way the typical cedar siding used on local saltbox houses. It’s low maintenance, and it’s a very beachy aesthetic.”

Images and Illustrations


Plans and Drawings


Project Credits

Cape Cod House

Wellfleet, Massachusetts

ARCHITECT: Brian Messana, AIA, and Toby O’Rorke, RIBA, partners, Messana O’Rorke, New York

PROJECT SIZE: 1,200 square feet

SITE SIZE: 2 acres


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