Martha's Vineyard, MA (2007)
In creating the landscape for East House on Martha’s Vineyard, MVVA set out to highlight the respectful contrast between Peter Rose + Partners’ modern orthogonal architecture and the vernacular natural qualities of the surrounding site.
The modular concrete and glass structure, designed to be moved in the event of coastal erosion, sits lightly on the land and orchestrates breathtaking views of the sea. The path leading from the drive to the front door is direct, but its gradual ascent and sequential plantings elevates a simple walk into a procession among evergreens, ferns, and beech trees that gently encroach on the edges of the path. A green roof enlivens the otherwise ordinary flat roof, decreasing rain runoff while also suggesting an overlap between the new and the natural.
Stone terraces extend the living area into the outdoors and provide lookout points toward the steep bluff and ocean below. A mown lawn encompasses the house with a subtly undulating perimeter, while groupings of plane trees provide generous shade from the summer sun. A mixture of meadow grasses, ferns, and locally adapted deciduous and evergreen trees press in at the edges of the lawn. On the site’s northern boundary, a starkly straight, low stone wall with a cutout for a footpath connecting to neighboring homes is reminiscent of the familiar stone walls that traverse the Martha’s Vineyard landscape while also echoing the pure lines of the house. The juxtaposition of the orderly lawn and stone wall with lush meadow and woodland plantings marks the East House landscape as a highly self-aware site that plays with the boundary between planned and natural forms and knits a striking modern structure into its rich coastal context.