Located in a flood plain on a saltwater marsh, this house for an actor and saleswoman provides views over estuarine tidal marshes to distant night lights of Wrightsville Beach. The building is two distinct volumes, separated by a “hole” through which prevailing sea-breezes are controlled with operable glass garage doors in an effort to create what the owners envision as a “convertible” room.
The lower, stucco mass houses the master suite with storage below, while the metal cubic volume houses the main living spaces, with two bedrooms, and a study on a second level off a common catwalk. A tower between the two building masses acts as a vent stack for cooling the house as well as providing access to a planted roof garden with a “dojo”.
The owner’s aversion to the “on-stilts” look of the typical beach houses on pilings was the prerequisite for a structural system of concrete “fins” used to elevate the building out of the flood plain. These fins are used for the bearing of the cantilevered metal cube. This cube is oriented with views to the north and east where the walls become transparent, while the western elevation becomes more opaque where the cube is oriented toward a driveway easement used to access adjacent properties.
The entrance of the house occurs on the west side through a gravel Japanese garden in the “hole” at the ground level. A metal stair ascends to the convertible room above connected to the rest of the house through a continuous concrete slab. The interior of the house is detailed similarly to an industrial theatre, with suspended metal catwalks and balconies.