May 1, 2007
Young Boston architects design a South Carolina island home with the Atlantic in mind.
Folly Beach, a city of little more than 2,000 people and a popular surf spot, sits on a six-mile barrier island just south of Charleston, South Carolina. It is a fairly dense hodgepodge of rickety shacks and cinder-block rentals dating from the 1950s—with much of the crowded beachfront occupied by larger construction sitting high aloft, as recent hurricane zoning ordinances dictate. Lucky enough to find a lot just one row off the water, landscape architect Jack Hart wanted to build a house that, at least upstairs, captured a view of the ocean.
However, his son Jason Hart, an architect who’d recently gotten his master’s from MIT, had a grander ambition modeled on a feature of the local terrain. “The inspiration for the home was the old jetties that used to be out there,” says Jason, who was just starting his own small firm, Cube, in Boston at the time. When he first visited the site, he proposed pushing the bulk of the house all the way to the east side of the 70-foot-wide lot to align it with the open corridor between the two houses across the street. “We wanted to foreshorten the view by creating a structure with a large face, like a camera box or telescope, that juts out toward it.”
The common rooms surrounding the open staircase—the “spine” of the 3,100-square-foot three-story home, completed last year—became the focal point. “The best interior views to the ocean were appropriated to the circulation corridor so the occupant would constantly engage with the site,” says fellow MIT grad and Cube partner Aaron Malnarick. In these spaces large windowpanes and sliding doors face the water, while small windows on each side offer curated vistas and give a real sense of privacy. Because the property is heavily wooded at the back, the architects carved out a secluded bedroom wing on the northwest corner. Moving between the first-floor office and the airy kitchen and dining room, one sees primarily water and foliage.
But it is the top-floor master-bedroom suite, which opens onto an Ipe wood deck, where the design culminates. “There’s really no other house with a deck like this,” Hart says. “Because we had a flat roof, we could come up high and get a view that you rarely see.” From here the island appears covered in trees, and the entire ocean—not just a 20-foot sliver of it—stretches out before you.