Perched high on a cliffside in rural Maine between nesting sites for Bald Eagles, this vacation home melds the traditional with the modern for a truly timeless design. Integrating steel, stone and heavy timbers, this project takes its inspiration from large vacation estates common in the early 1940’s and brings it into the 21st century.
“The property is a classic Maine coastline property with all the character of local fishermen and rough and tumble loggers. It is just beautiful country, and depending on where you are coming from, probably inexpensive to visit.” Explained Chip Thorner, builder on the project.
Working on an idyllic granite cliffside with stunning views is not without its difficulties. The building process had to contend with the rocky terrain, logistical hurdles, and local wildlife regulations.
“The challenges of working a building site in Maine are not unknown. Everywhere you go there is stone and you are probably going to have to blast, especially if there is a walk out basement. But everything on this project flowed really well. Sequentially I think that was the key.” Chip told us. “The biggest hurdle was making sure the site was not within in a certain distance of nesting Bald Eagles, of which there are many around this area. If you are too close, that’s it. You may own the land, but you cannot build there.”
Part of a larger complex of buildings, the house features a number of guest rooms, built in bunk beds and outdoor gathering spaces for large numbers of friends and family to spend time in together comfortably, while still allowing everyone enough space to find their own private areas to enjoy.
“Everyone in this family essentially wanted their own private house on the estate.” Chip elaborated. “These are legacy homes; they are unlikely to ever change hands outside the family. They are a modern version of what the classic old family estates built in the 1930’s or 40’s had been. The design is particular to the owners contemporary taste but it has a timeless feeling that you are constantly reminded of when you are on the property.”
The Douglas fir timbers feature a custom burnt and brushed finish that give a feeling of radiant warmth to the structure when combined with the colder feeling steel, glass, and stone elements of the design. Combining these components made the project challenging, but those complex integrations of materials are also what make the home so visually dynamic.
“I think on this project, and I got the sense of this from New Energy Works as well, that it is not just another job. Sometimes we are approached by people who want something built and their first question is “what is the price per square foot?” which is an impossible question to answer, but just asking that question informs you of where the conversation is going.” Chip elaborated. “Other times, like on this project, we are fortunate to work with clients where it is not that money does not matter, because it always matters, but it’s not their first thought. Their first thought is appropriately; can we assemble a team of architects, builders, and specialists that understand what we are trying to do, who are all working together in unison, and are committed to the project coming together really well?”
“If you choose New Energy Works, chances are that you are involved with a project that has some common threads to quality and sustainability that make it something worthwhile.” Chip surmised. “If we are building things that last, then the materials that you use require a certain amount of thought. Because these giant beams came from a tree that was once growing somewhere and it would be a shame to squander that gift.”
Architect: Rob Bramhall Architects