A quiet clearing in the middle of glacially formed barrens; the view of the ocean across a meadow; a mature forest of oak, birch, and fir. Each of these are “magical moments we seek to frame through an architecture that turns attention away from itself,” writes Elliot + Elliot Architecture in the firm’s monograph, Houses of Maine: Elliot + Elliot Architecture ($40; Princeton Architectural Press, 2013). 

Six of these framed moments, as portrayed in the book, are simple houses with simple names: House on the Barrens, House on a Hill, House on the Neck. (House on a Pond, shown, won a 2012 Maine AIA Honor Award.) And yet the ease with which they rest in the land belies the complexity in designing for the ever-changing local weather. As Elliot + Elliot, a six-person firm based in an 1835 Greek Revival house in Blue Hill, Maine, has learned over the years, Maine is where “wind can blow so hard that rain is driven sideways, where several feet of snow can fill the dooryard in mere hours, and where impenetrable fog can silently encapsulate the shore without warning.” 

In each of the six houses, nature’s inspiration and weather constraints combine and then descend on vernacular typologies, such as Shaker meeting houses, Maine grange halls, timber-framed structures, farmhouses, and barns. (The one house that doesn’t take a local building type as its starting point instead finds inspiration from boatbuilding.) Yet the firm remains committed to Modernism. The members are, as Philip M. Isaacson states in the forward, “modernists of great orthodoxy.” Because what could be more modern than a relationship between the indoors and the outdoors, adapting to the climate, and the simplification of form? 

Read more about Elliott + Elliott:
New Meets Old on the Coast of Maineweaetxdyvaydzcwq
Vintage Modern
Distant Vision
Elliot Elliot Norelius Creates Prepackaged Modern Houses