Inspired by the gridded aesthetic of Wellfleet’s Mid-Century Modern Cape Cod houses, Warp House is a 1,800 sqft prefabricated home designed for a retired artist from Boston. Warp House uses offsite fabrication and an integrated architecture and construction approach to bring the tradition of Cape Cod experimental houses forward into the 21st century.
Located on a steeply sloping woodland site, the house is comprised of three tapering prefab modules coated in Swedish Black Pine Tar that float over the ground on a steel frame. The modules “nest” together in a fanning configuration providing varied views of the site. The name Warp House comes from the challenges of constructing these “warped” modules in comparison to the standard boxes pre-fabricators normally construct.
The client is a photographer who had a long career working in non-profit. She had been visiting the Outer Cape since the 1970s and wanted to live in the outer cape area, which is known for his thriving artist community. The client was drawn to prefabricated architecture as she liked the fact that the home would be constructed under one roof and would be delivered to the site fully erected. This would cause the least amount of damage to the site and allow the team to worry less about weather constraints. Additionally, the team was focused on off-site fabrication as a more sustainable construction practice as all of the waste streams can be handled much more efficiently in terms of recycling and reuse.
The house is inspired by the mid-century architecture of the outer cape area. In looking at these nearby examples of experimental homes, the design team noted a rigorous grid and modularity of construction, even though by and large, these structures were site built. The designer’s thought process was to utilize off-site fabrication techniques to create a similar logic and create a strong sense of the informal, the unfussy, the do-it-yourself spirit of the artist’s retreat.
There are three modules in total. Each tapering element came from the factory intact without further assembly in the field. The dimensions are approximately 10’6″ tall at the tallest module by 15’6″ wide tapering down to 10′ wide along the 48′ length. From the outset, the design team wanted to employ some conventional techniques of modular construction but circumvent and use them differently. While the architects are interested in the grid, the tapering modules completely subvert it or create a grid of a different kind. The nesting together of the tapered modules creates the serial views of the site as the direction of view shifts from module to module.
The flow of indoor and outdoor space was an inspiration for the selection of interior flooring that closely mimics the exterior decking material. The fireplace/bookcase wall installation takes cues from the Cado Shelving System and also works to flatten the classic hovering fireplace into a gesture that is engaged with the wall. Usability and modularity are both important elements of an interior that, in some ways, is like one big studio containing the objects of and inspirations for the client’s artistic interests.