estes/twombly architects, newport, r.i.

This Block Island retreat keeps the island's architectural tradition of spare buildings intended to withstand harsh conditions. Architect Jim Estes started with two distinctly indigenous forms—sharply peaked dormers and a low-sloping porch—and designed basic building blocks that could be moved around like Monopoly pieces until he hit upon a winning combination. "We wanted the porch to become more than a tacked-on feature, and we hinged living spaces around that idea," says Estes.

The jury applauded the home's modest scale and see-through middle created by the continuous porch that encompasses entry and living areas before capitulating as a covered terrace along the rear waterfront elevation. Painted exposed rafters support the gently sloped ceiling to maintain a porch feel inside as well as out. Carefully aligned, oversized windows in a footprint only one room deep add to the home's transparency, while an asymmetrical pulling apart of the dormered volumes helps diminish the apparent size of an already small house.

principal in charge/project architect: James Estes, Estes/Twombly Architects
general contractor: McLaughlin Housewrights, East Greenwich, R.I.
project size: 1,990 square feet
site size: 0.5 acre
construction cost: Withheld
photographer: Warren Jagger Photography