The vibe on Block Island, Rhode Island, couldn’t differ more from nearby Newport. Yes, there are extravagant summer mansions here, but there are also modest cottages—and local zoning guidelines aim new building squarely in that direction. This is fine by Adam Titrington’s client, who’s all about living informally and as outdoors as possible.
The client approached Estes Twombly + Titrington seeking to replace an existing home and guest cottage with a similar arrangement—but this time farther back from vulnerable soils near the shoreline and raised atop higher ground for better views. Having already lived on the double lot for some time, he possessed deep knowledge of the best spots at different times of the day.
The firm’s plan for a new small compound mines these opportunities while keeping outdoor areas open to views and sheltered from strong ocean winds. There’s a main house with room for the client’s older children; a small guest house, and a one-car garage with a fitness studio above. “We often break houses up into smaller pieces to break down the massing, and get more windows and light,” says Adam. “In this case, it’s partly programmatic, but zoning on the island also drags you this way. They are trying to keep the scale down.”
Building forms apply a modern sensibility to local traditions, with materials carefully specified to resist harsh weather. “We want the house to look like it belongs,” says Adam. “At the same time, it’s a new house, so we want to make it as durable and rugged as possible.” Shutters will batten down the structures against winter nor’easters, but summers will open wide to the bounty of beach life
Block Island, Rhode Island
Architect: Adam Titrington, AIA, principal in charge; Peter Twombly, AIA, Michael Morris, Associate AIA, Ryan Peden-Spear, project team, Estes Twombly + Titrington Architects, Newport, Rhode Island
Project Size: 2,400 square feet (main house); 1,200 square feet (guest house), single-car garage with fitness studio above
Site size: 1.5 acres
Rendering: Estes Twombly + Titrington Architects