Launch Slideshow

estes house, jamestown, r.i.

A greenhouse formerly on the site inspired the layout for architect Jim Estes' house, and its materials draw from utilitarian New England structures. When the greenhouse was abandoned in the 1950s, the site went completely wild.

estes house, jamestown, r.i.

A greenhouse formerly on the site inspired the layout for architect Jim Estes' house, and its materials draw from utilitarian New England structures. When the greenhouse was abandoned in the 1950s, the site went completely wild.

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    Michael Mathers

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    Michael Mathers

    With the semi-solid front facade extending to become a pergola, the private side of the house bleeds into the landscape, and the glassy entryway stands out as a gate.

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    Michael Mathers

    The rear of the house is nearly transparent. In place of gutters, crushed stone trenches channel water to adjacent wetlands. A study and a daughter’s bedroom occupy the second and third floors of the tower, respectively.

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    Warren Jagger

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    First floor plan

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    Second and third floor plans

estes/twombly architects, newport, r.i.

A greenhouse formerly on the site inspired the layout for architect Jim Estes' house, and its materials draw from utilitarian New England structures. When the greenhouse was abandoned in the 1950s, the site went completely wild. "Every middle-aged person in this area spent their childhood throwing stones at the windows," Estes says.

The house's long, low profile is punctuated by two towers--one for the daughter's bedroom and another for the apartment bedroom. The entry corridor slices through the house along the axis of the old greenhouse, but Estes tilted the house 12 degrees to get a better angle on the sun.

Throughout, elements such as the exposed rafters and concrete floors with radiant heat create a look that's rich, but not too precious. "An epiphany was seeing Bill Murray in 'Caddyshack' cleaning his house with a leaf blower," Estes says. "In a joking way, it became one of the parameters of the design." The judges commented that this is "a good house, beautifully executed. The architects knew when to say when."

project architect: James Estes, Estes/Twombly Architects
general contractor: Darlington Home Builders, S. Kingstown, R.I.
project size: 2,200 square feet/main house; 660 square feet/guest suite
site size: 4 acres
construction cost: Withheld
photographer: Michael Mathers