ZeroEnergy Design’s modern design emphasizes accessibility and sustainability on a challenging terrain.
A couple from the Boston suburbs knew just what they wanted when they commissioned ZeroEnergy Design to plan their empty nesters’ getaway in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. “They were looking for a home where they could enter the next chapter of their life,” says Stephanie Horowitz, managing director of ZeroEnergy Design. “They wanted something that engaged with the stepped site, took advantage of the beautiful views, and gave them a respite away from the city.”
The result was a modern, multi-tiered home that embraces sloped topography while providing privacy and offering breathtaking waterfront views.
Considering this project’s coastal location, external cladding needed to be more resilient than that of a traditional inland home. “The corrosive coastal environment plus the potential for high wind speeds certainly added a level of complexity to the project,” Horowitz says. The team went with non-corrosive materials like stainless steel flashing on the home’s exterior.
One of the homeowners’ main goals, though, was accessibility. “The client wanted to be able to age in place, but the site didn’t lend itself to single floor living, so we incorporated an elevator into the design of the project,” Horowitz says. This facilitated an improved flow between the garage entrance, office, master suite, and laundry on the upper level and the main living space below.
As with all of ZeroEnergy Design’s work, environmental sustainability was key. The roof features a photovoltaic array that produces nearly enough energy to offset the home’s consumption. The super-insulated airtight enclosure further lowers the home’s energy needs.
The project also incorporates features that both accent the design and help to manage heat gain. In one example, exterior shades help to better control the interior temperature of the home. “Low sun angles on the property warm the house throughout the day, so the exterior shades help to block the sunlight before it enters the home,” Horowitz says. Not only does this reduce energy consumption, but it also creates a more comfortable living environment. “If it’s not comfortable, it’s not a great space.”
While the interior of the home is bright and airy with accents of bold colors, the exterior was designed to subtly blend in with its natural surroundings. “In contrast to the expressive interior, the home is rather demure when viewed from the street,” Horowitz says. A cladding of muted wooden siding is complemented by slate-gray stones, allowing the greenery of the local flora and blue of the ocean beyond to stand out.
Showcasing the client’s extensive collection of artwork was a prime consideration when designing the home. White walls, ample natural light, and minimalist accents create an ideal backdrop for their various pieces. “When guests enter the home, they’re greeted by an art wall that creates a degree of separation from the rest of the home,” Horowitz says.
The partially enclosed kitchen sits just beyond the combined living and dining space, providing a greater sense of privacy than a traditional open floor plan concept. White counters and cabinetry combined with floor-to-ceiling windows create a space that is both sunny and clean, yet comfortable and down to earth. “Directly outside the kitchen is a screened-in porch, which itself connects to a grilling area and lawn that is perfect for entertaining,” Horowitz says.
The open floor plan and stepped topography of the site created an ideal opportunity for a hybrid indoor-outdoor living space. “You have a kitchen that’s semi-enclosed, and open dining and living space, and this whole area is flanked on either side by programmed outdoor space,” Horowitz says. Past the living and dining area, a manicured lawn opens up to a pool and views of the sea beyond. “With a stepped site, creating the living space with a close connection to grade allowed that integral connection between outdoor and indoor space.”
The Dartmouth Oceanfront
Project: The Dartmouth Oceanfront Location: South Dartmouth, MA Completion: 2018 Architect: ZeroEnergy Design Mechanical Design: ZeroEnergy Design Size: 3,600 square feet Interior Design: Eleven Interiors Landscape Design: Soren Deniord Design Studio Windows: European Architectural Supply