Isle of Palms Residence

Isle of Palms, South Carolina A simple but generous house, substantial in feeling, for a young owner. Size conforms to a contemporary design context of conventional speculatively built “subdivision” houses. The construction was the first, fully realized design project. To achieve a feeling of “substance” within conventional means, it was decided that design and construction must combine. To this end the same core group accomplished the process of both design and construction.

The house is segmented in two halves. One being the living spaces, the other being the utilitarian spaces. The utilitarian spaces include sleeping quarters, kitchen, storage, bathrooms, and eating and are packed into a box on the north side of the house. The living spaces, which run linearly along the south side of the house, from west to east: exterior deck, porch, living room, eating area, and exterior deck. The utilitarian half reads as a rectilinear volume, three stories high from the exterior, the living half is viewed as two planes, floor and roof, attached at the side. Once inside these boundaries evaporate and the heterogeneity of the house appears. The large volume, almost a hall or great room in traditional terms, was then subtly subdivided by a single monumental column, and changes in the floor plane into living and dining areas – the singleness and overwhelming physical presence of the column complementing the scale of the volume.

The residence manifests the condition of heterogeneity in formal/spatial terms. Witness the conjunction in plan and section of orthogonal and non-orthogonal geometries. Witness the figural strength of the north and south elevations versus the figural weakness of the east and west elevations. It also manifests this condition in material terms. Concrete, glass, and wood are each used in different ways, each in the manner in which they are most capable.

Within the limits of the project, conventional wood frame construction is the only feasible building technology available on the barrier island. Exterior walls are finished in cement board siding and smooth textured cement board panel and interior walls are painted gypsum board. Floors are exposed concrete in living and porch, plywood in kitchen and dining, and carpet in the bedrooms.