Launch Slideshow

Picard/Samsel Residence

Designing a residence for tiny Dewees Island, near Charleston, S.C., has presented architect Whitney Powers with a host of challenges.

Picard/Samsel Residence

Designing a residence for tiny Dewees Island, near Charleston, S.C., has presented architect Whitney Powers with a host of challenges.

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    David Edwards

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    David Edwards

    This project won kudos from the judges for its “nice, simple scheme” and “clarity.” Because the site is on a fragile barrier island, the design addresseshighly restrictive building requirements.

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    David Edwards

studio a, charleston, s.c.

Designing a residence for tiny Dewees Island, near Charleston, S.C., has presented architect Whitney Powers with a host of challenges. All materials will have to be transported from the mainland by barge or ferry; federal and local laws mandate a 12-foot elevation above grade; and only minimal clearing of the pristine site is permitted.

But Powers' design for the 2,200-square-foot house and adjacent guest quarters earned high praise from the judges, who applauded the project's "nice, simple scheme" and its seductive "clarity."

"We've used the vault idea here to establish the fact that from anywhere inside the main house you'll have a clear sense of the entire structure," Powers says. Even lofts above the bedroom and living room open to allow uninterrupted views of the space.

The vault also allows Powers to "keep a much lower profile" within the canopy height of nearby live oaks. "Had we gone with a ridge or shed, the house would have been much higher," Powers says. "This design is far more discreet, becoming part of the horizon when seen from a distance."

project architect: Whitney Powers, Studio A
developer: John Knott Jr., Island Preservation Partnership, Isle of Palms, S.C.
project size: 2,600 square feet
site size: 1.28 acres
construction cost: Anticipated $150 per square foot
photographer: David Edwards