What the judges admired most about this small two-bedroom house is how much architect James Estes was able to accomplish in just 1,440 square feet: privacy, views, and efficiency. The site's location along a flood-prone shoreline and its narrow shape, small size, and proximity to a road, though challenging, were cleverly overcome.
The architect tackled the issue of visual and acoustic privacy by grouping all the passage and service spaces (bathroom, utility room, stair, entry-way, and closets) along the street side of the first floor, creating a buffer. While few windows face the street, both first-floor bedrooms open to the waterfront side of the house. Living spaces are located top side, where they can command the best scenery. Windows run the entire length of the second floor's eastern face and wrap around both edges for maximum exposure to the water view. Though small, the cottage reads big, says Estes, thanks to the wide-open vistas and an exposed interior roof structure that creates the impression of great space.
Because of the site's flood history, the house had to be built on piers. To keep the house grounded, the piers were camouflaged by storage/work areas that are clad with the same materials used for the front fence.
Dubbed the Osprey House, the cottage follows in form and materials the tradition of the fishing shack that was previously on the site, with some low-maintenance substitutions, such as cellular PVC trim boards that don't need painting, aluminum-clad windows, and standing-seam metal roofing instead of shingles for greater storm resistance.
Entrant/Architect: Estes/Twombly Architects, Newport, R.I.
Builder: Joseph Scotti, Jamestown, R.I.
Living space: 1,440 square feet
Site: .35 acre
Construction cost: Withheld
Photographer: Warren Jagger Photography
Resources: Bathroom plumbing fittings: KWC; Bathroom plumbing fixtures: Kohler; Bathroom cabinets: Cabico; Dishwasher: Bosch; Entry doors/windows: Pella; Fireplace: Rais Wittus; Flooring: American Olean; Hardware: Valli & Valli; Kitchen plumbing fittings: KWC; Kitchen plumbing fixtures: Kohler; Lighting fixtures: Bega, Lightolier, and Stonco; Oven: Bosch; Paints: Benjamin Moore; Refrigerator: GE; Roofing: Englert; Trim work: Azek.