A Modular Home on Martha’s Vineyard

A zoning restriction spurred an architect’s solution.

An 18-foot limit on building heights in Martha’s Vineyard gave architect Alexander Kolbe of evoDOMUS pause. His clients were in search of a four-bedroom, 5,000 square-foot home with guest quarters, overlooking the water in the distance.

That’s no small residence.

So the architect dug down and created a split-level. The guest quarters are below grade, and the living quarters are above.

“We raised it high enough so you can see the ocean,” he says. “Then we added a huge roof deck on top of the bedroom, and a green roof contributed to make it environmentally friendly.”

Kolbe did it all with modules – eight of them in varying sizes, clad in cedar for a decidedly contemporary look on an island dedicated to traditional design.

“I was raised in a modern environment and I studied in Berlin, so I only do modern design – no Cape Cod or Colonial homes,” he says. “The clients were looking for modern and sustainability – they’d seen it online or heard about it through word of mouth.”

The architects are committed to passive house design guidelines. “Our design is always driven by energy efficiency, like maximum solar gain in winter, wide overhangs and exterior blinds,” he says.

All the materials – including the cedar cladding and the German-made, triple glazed custom windows – had to be shipped to the island.

Inside, his British clients already had an interior designer on board, one that took cues from the exterior. “So there’s wood cladding, a stone fireplace with white walls and all natural wood, and tile in the bath that’s Duravit,” he says.

And outside, the home will eventually blend into its surroundings, as its cedar weathers to a pale gray.

It may be modern and modular, but soon enough, it will blend right in with its neighbors – and the environment.

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