Oceanfront Retreat: Spurwink by Whitten Architects

Oceanfront Retreat

A property, that was once an expansive saltwater farm, now serves as a setting for this oceanfront retreat located a short drive from downtown Portland. The farm’s fields, cleared long ago for cultivation, now afford sweeping views of the rocky shore, distant islands, and a vast horizon. On it’s own it is an incredibly beautiful and distinctive piece of coastal Maine.

The clients sought a new home that felt, “uniquely Maine” and provided ample space for entertaining family and friends. They desired an architecture that opened up to the landscape and didn’t impede their ability to thoroughly enjoy the outdoors.

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Our site-specific design solution situates the home at the edge of the old farm’s fields, and on previously developed land, preserving the well-established character of the site. Upon approach, the design intentionally does not overwhelm the visitor with an imposing presence that competes with the surrounding grandeur. Rather, the primarily one-floor layout is broken into separate, but linked, architectural forms that diminish the overall scale and let the landscape flow through and around the home. Throughout the home, materials and carefully crafted structural components stretch from interior to exterior and further blur the line between in and out.

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The main living space is stretched from north to south and includes oversized lift-n-slide doors on opposing sides. To the east an expansive view, with stretch of field and a cherished pitch pine in the foreground, takes center stage. This panorama is made more spectacular with the inclusion of it’s western oriented counterpart. Here, an intimate courtyard, with a native pitch pine backdrop, offers shelter from aggressive afternoon winds. The progression from the east-facing field, to living space, and then to west-facing courtyard, allows the family to follow the path of the sun throughout the day. At the south end of the living space a momentous screen porch offers shelter on buggy days. Just outside the insect screen, an oceanfront patio with integrated fire pit affords marshmallow roasts and stargazing on clear nights.

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At each bedroom, generous sliding glass doors grant immediate access to a south-facing porch, abundant ventilation, and the sounds of the ocean. A loft is tucked into a windowed dormer above each bedroom and provides a tranquil away-space for the parents and each sibling.

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Ultimately this camp-like haven, which sought to provide a connection to the surrounding landscape, is a welcome reprieve from the young family’s high-rise life in New York City. From it’s sheltering porches and protected courtyard, eager “little scientists” can to step out beyond the home and explore the rocky shoreline, pocket beaches, tide pools, open fields, dense woods, and colorful wetlands of an intrinsically Maine site.

Architects: Whitten Architects
Project: Oceanfront Retreat – Spurwink
General Contractor: Wright-Ryan Homes
Landscape Architect: Richardson & Associates
Interior Designer: Cole Design and Whitten Architects
Lighting Design: Greg Day Lighting
Structural Engineer: Albert Putnam Associates
Location: Scarborough, Maine, USA
Photography: Trent Bell

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