Launch Slideshow

When the walls are raised, the house feels more like an open-air pavilion--with direct sightlines to the water.

Beach Houses

Beach Houses

  • The cedar-shingled house has two volumesone for sleeping, one for livingconnected by a latticed glass bridge.

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    The cedar-shingled house has two volumesone for sleeping, one for livingconnected by a latticed glass bridge.

    600

    Michael Moran

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects

    This interpretation of a traditional beach house captured the judges’ attention, as did its exquisite siting on a gentle hill. The materials marry well with Montauk, but their articulation and detailing offer surprises, says Paul Masi, AIA, LEED AP, referring to the weathered oak ceilings, sawn-stone walls, and tapered wood slats that modulate light and views. “We took coloring clues from weather-beaten objects we found on top of the hill,” he says. “As the house ages it becomes another one of those objects.”
  • The dune-facing rear of the house almost disappears.

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    The dune-facing rear of the house almost disappears.

    600

    Michael Moran

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects
  • The bridges wood slats modulate light and views.

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    The bridges wood slats modulate light and views.

    600

    Michael Moran

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects
  • Living spaces open to the elements.

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    Living spaces open to the elements.

    600

    Michael Moran

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects
  • Wood for the oak ceilings was covered in salt solution and left to weather outside.

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    Wood for the oak ceilings was covered in salt solution and left to weather outside.

    600

    Michael Moran

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects
  • Glass walls blur the line between indoors and out.

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    Glass walls blur the line between indoors and out.

    600

    Michael Moran

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects
  • The master bath capitalizes on the view.

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    The master bath capitalizes on the view.

    600

    Michael Moran

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects
  • Natural, weatherbeaten materials celebrate the spirit of the place.

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    Natural, weatherbeaten materials celebrate the spirit of the place.

    600

    Michael Moran

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects
  • Out-of-the-way niches offer a resting place.

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    Out-of-the-way niches offer a resting place.

    600

    Michael Moran

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects
  • Sawn stone walls bring an appropriately raw sensibility to the seaside house.

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    Sawn stone walls bring an appropriately raw sensibility to the seaside house.

    600

    Michael Moran

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects
  • An infinity pool overlooks the Atlantic.

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    An infinity pool overlooks the Atlantic.

    600

    Michael Moran

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects
  • Floor plans.

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    Floor plans.

    600

    Courtesy Bates Masi + Architects

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects
  • The front of the house draws visitors up into the hillside.

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    The front of the house draws visitors up into the hillside.

    600

    Michael Moran

    2012 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / merit
    bates masi + architects
  • Olson Kundig Architects divided the house into three separate structures: one for sleeping, one for living, and the other for guests.

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    Olson Kundig Architects divided the house into three separate structures: one for sleeping, one for living, and the other for guests.

    600

    Courtesy Olson Kundig Architects

    2011 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / grand
    olson kundig architects

    When architect Tom Kundig, FAIA, sat down to design this Hawaii beach house, he faced a dual challenge. The owner had asked him to make the project as sturdy and low-maintenance as possible, because it would have to weather strong storms on its waterfront site. At the same time, the local climate is often mild, so Kundig wanted to open the home to the outdoors as much as he could. He decided to take advantage of abundant natural breezes by strategically placing openings in the home’s corrugated metal roof. Rather than blowing into the house, trade winds sweep over the roof, creating a cooling vacuum that pulls air through the interiors.
  • Slaughterhouse Beach House

    Traditional Hawaiian buildings inspired the home's corrugated metal roofs, which are tailored to the site's wind patterns.

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    Traditional Hawaiian buildings inspired the home's corrugated metal roofs, which are tailored to the site's wind patterns.

    600

    Benjamin Benschneider

    2011 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / grand
    olson kundig architects
  • Slaughterhouse Beach House

    Hydraulic walls lift up to extend the living area (including a giant kitchen island) into the spectacular site.

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    Hydraulic walls lift up to extend the living area (including a giant kitchen island) into the spectacular site.

    600

    Benjamin Benschneider

    2011 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / grand
    olson kundig architects
  • Slaughterhouse Beach House

    When the walls are raised, the house feels more like an open-air pavilion--with direct sightlines to the water.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmpDE8F%2Etmp_tcm48-749382.jpg

    true

    When the walls are raised, the house feels more like an open-air pavilion--with direct sightlines to the water.

    600

    Benjamin Benschneider

    2011 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / grand
    olson kundig architects
  • Slaughterhouse Beach House

    Window-lined walkways link the home's three separate buildings.

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    Window-lined walkways link the home's three separate buildings.

    600

    Benjamin Benschneider

    2011 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / grand
    olson kundig architects
  • Slaughterhouse Beach House

    "We tried to use very simple, natural materials that don't over-indulge," says Tom Kundig, FAIA, about the project's palette of wood, rammed-earth, metal, and concrete.

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    true

    "We tried to use very simple, natural materials that don't over-indulge," says Tom Kundig, FAIA, about the project's palette of wood, rammed-earth, metal, and concrete.

    600

    Benjamin Benschneider

    2011 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / grand
    olson kundig architects
  • Slaughterhouse Beach House

    The beach house sits atop a rocky point of land where two bays meet in dramatic fashion.

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    The beach house sits atop a rocky point of land where two bays meet in dramatic fashion.

    600

    Simon Watson

    2011 rada
    custom / more than 3,000 square feet / grand
    olson kundig architects
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    600

    Jeff Heatley

    2008 rada 
    custom / 3,500 square feet or less / grand
    stelle architects

    Fred Stelle, AIA, has boldly done what few architects dare to do—he's designed a house that plays second fiddle to its Long Island, N.Y., waterfront site. Seeking to capture views to the north and crucial natural light to the south, Stelle created a 90-foot-long glass box. The building's core, where the kitchen lies, opens up, transforming it and two adjacent decks into an outdoor room. And before they even reach such pleasures, guests must get out of their cars at a distance and follow a boardwalk (anchored with steel rods to withstand regular flooding) to the house. “In these waterfront sites, it's not only about trying to intervene as little as possible, but also about capturing the spirit of the place,” says Stelle, a veteran of building on Long Island.
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    600

    Jeff Heatley

    2008 rada 
    custom / 3,500 square feet or less / grand
    stelle architects
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    Stelle Architects

    2008 rada 
    custom / 3,500 square feet or less / grand
    stelle architects
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    600

    Stelle Architects

    2008 rada 
    custom / 3,500 square feet or less / grand
    stelle architects
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    600

    Jeff Heatley

    2008 rada 
    custom / 3,500 square feet or less / grand
    stelle architects
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    600

    Jeff Heatley

    2008 rada 
    custom / 3,500 square feet or less / grand
    stelle architects
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    600

    Jeff Heatley

    2008 rada 
    custom / 3,500 square feet or less / grand
    stelle architects
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    600

    Jeff Heatley

    2008 rada 
    custom / 3,500 square feet or less / grand
    stelle architects
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    residential architect, sept/oct 2007
    mussel shoals house, ventura, calif.
    designARC

    Dion McCarthy and Mark D. Kirkhart principals at L.A.'s DesignARC liken the overall scheme for this beach house to a coconut. “It has a rough exterior that stands up to the elements, but the interior is soft,” McCarthy says. Steel-troweled stucco and cold-rolled steel make up the home's shell. The salty ocean air quickly rusted the steel and drew the lime out of the stucco to form a weathered patina. “We liked playing with the site's impact on the design via those natural forces,” he adds. For all its serenity, the house is tough enough to handle both stormy weather and the sometimes-prying eyes of passing surfers. Sliding louvers and storm panels enable the owners to completely close it up when they leave for the week, ensuring safety and privacy.
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    residential architect, sept/oct 2007
    mussel shoals house, ventura, calif.
    designARC
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    residential architect, sept/oct 2007
    mussel shoals house, ventura, calif.
    designARC
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    residential architect, sept/oct 2007
    mussel shoals house, ventura, calif.
    designARC
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    residential architect, sept/oct 2007
    mussel shoals house, ventura, calif.
    designARC
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    residential architect, sept/oct 2007
    mussel shoals house, ventura, calif.
    designARC
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    Steven Brooke Studios

    residential architect, july 2007
    sarasota serene
    guy peterson, office for architecture

    Sarasota, Fla.-based architect, Guy Peterson uses a classic vocabulary of concrete and steel construction, floating overhangs that provide passive heating and cooling, and direct indoor-outdoor relationships that suit this near-tropical climate.  Building on barrier islands or seaward of Florida's Coastal Construction Control Line adds another layer of design constraints. For example, homes must be built above the wave crest of a 100-year storm, which can be 19 feet above sea level in some zones, and must limit light emissions and glare to protect nesting sea turtles. The architect uses those contraints to make his designs bold, but fitting their setting. “Architecture should make you think about your environment,” says Peterson. “I'd rather have someone not like my work than not notice it.”
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    Steven Brooke Studios

    residential architect, july 2007
    sarasota serene
    guy peterson, office for architecture
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    Steven Brooke Studios

    residential architect, july 2007
    sarasota serene
    guy peterson, office for architecture
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    Eric Roth

    EcoHome Design Awards, Summer 2010
    Grand Award
    ZeroEnergy Design

    Sun, sea, and family gatherings draw 20-plus lucky folks to this striking home overlooking Cape Cod Bay. Those appealing elements also presented the biggest challenges for architect Stephanie Horowitz and designer Ben Uyeda of ZeroEnergy Design. “Extreme fluctuation in occupancy was the starting point for our entire design,” Horowitz explains.Architecturally, a stand-alone foyer pushes apart the plan’s two distinct volumes and provides a physical barrier that allows the six-bedroom “sleeping bar” to be shut down most of the year.  
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    Eric Roth

    EcoHome Design Awards, Summer 2010
    Grand Award
    ZeroEnergy Design

    On this sunny bluff overlooking Cape Cod Bay, 11.7 kW of solar panels on the south-facing roof gather much of the home's required energy.
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    Eric Roth

    EcoHome Design Awards, Summer 2010
    Grand Award
    ZeroEnergy Design
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    Eric Roth

    EcoHome Design Awards, Summer 2010
    Grand Award
    ZeroEnergy Design
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    Eric Roth

    EcoHome Design Awards, Summer 2010
    Grand Award
    ZeroEnergy Design
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    Eric Roth

    EcoHome Design Awards, Summer 2010
    Grand Award
    ZeroEnergy Design
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    Eric Roth

    EcoHome Design Awards, Summer 2010
    Grand Award
    ZeroEnergy Design
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    Eric Roth

    EcoHome Design Awards, Summer 2010
    Grand Award
    ZeroEnergy Design
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    Eric Roth

    EcoHome Design Awards, Summer 2010
    Grand Award
    ZeroEnergy Design
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    600

    EcoHome Design Awards, Summer 2010
    Grand Award
    ZeroEnergy Design
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    600

    EcoHome Design Awards, Summer 2010
    Grand Award
    ZeroEnergy Design
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    George Cott/Chroma Inc.

    CUSTOM HOME, March 2004
    Beach Treat
    Cooper Johnson Smith

    Whether it's owner-occupied or rented out, this Pass-A-Grille, Fla., home must be able to withstand tropical storms, hurricanes, and the rigors of everyday beach weather. Builder Rick Worley constructed it atop underground pilings of wood encased in concrete.The building's lower level consists of concrete and masonry, with breakaway walls of concrete block to let storm water run right under the house. Continuous steel rods run up from the concrete base through the wood-framed main and second floors, pinning the structure to its site.
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    George Cott/Chroma Inc.

    CUSTOM HOME, March 2004
    Beach Treat
    Cooper Johnson Smith
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    George Cott/Chroma Inc.

    CUSTOM HOME, March 2004
    Beach Treat
    Cooper Johnson Smith
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    Cooper Johnson Smith

    CUSTOM HOME, March 2004
    Beach Treat
    Cooper Johnson Smith
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    Cooper Johnson Smith

    CUSTOM HOME, March 2004
    Beach Treat
    Cooper Johnson Smith
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    JD Peterson

    2004 CHDA
    Custom Home, 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet / Merit Award
    Fisher-Friedman Associates

    Each new house in this beach community just north of San Francisco works hard to satisfy a myriad of safety and building codes. FEMA regulations require homes to be lifted several feet off the ground in case of flooding; paradoxically, the local homeowners' association enforces a strict height limit. Foundations and framing must also meet strict earthquake standards. “At Sea Drift you can't have a two-story house, so there was a 9- to 10-foot envelope between the floor and the roof to design in,” says architect Randy Friedman. “You can do pop-up roofs, so we did a barrel vault over the living and dining rooms and the study.”
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    JD Peterson

    2004 CHDA
    Custom Home, 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet / Merit Award
    Fisher-Friedman Associates
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    2004 CHDA
    Custom Home, 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet / Merit Award
    Fisher-Friedman Associates

The allure of living within sight of a watery horizon and the sound of rhythmic waves appeals to almost everyone. But the cost of obtaining a slice of seaside land and the challenges of designing for such a demanding environment up the ante for the architect and client alike. And how do you tread the line between luxury living and the relaxed vibe of the beach bum lifestyle?

The designs seen in the accompanying slideshow achieve that tricky balance and more. Living next to the ocean means building durable structures to resist storms, pervasive humidity, and corrosive salt air, and the best of these efforts also maintain a graceful stance that’s respectful of  their delicate sites. Sturdy exterior materials reflect sandy, rocky, or even concrete ocean-front surroundings and cool, sleek interior finishes offer respite from sun and wind. Floor plans optimize outdoor connections with grand openings, but the houses are also often designed to completely close up when owners are away or when hurricane season hits. And although designs are as varied as the locales, all of these beach houses let nature’s architecture take top billing.