Book Review; A Sense of Place – Houses on Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, by Mark A. Hutker
Header photo by Eric Roth
I’ve found another favorite – A Sense of Place Houses of Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod. In the WKD library, it’s tucked right next to Axel Vervoordt’s Timeless Interiors. Both books speak the same language.
Mark Hutker, founder of Hutker Architects, has been practicing architecture on the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard and environs for over 30 years. His second book, A Sense of Place Houses on Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, showcases 13 homes from his large body of exceptional work. Mark is a Modernist whose work draws from the history and vernacular of Cape Cod architecture and it’s communities. In doing so, his work is a 20th/21st century extension/expression of the region. The book is a wonderfully written and visually rich narrative that illustrates how breath taking and beautiful modern residential architecture can be when it draws from a region’s historical vernacular, creating homes that are “beautiful, personal, authentic and unique to their sense of place.”
You could dive right in and look at the photographs of the 13 homes in the book and believe me, it is beautifully illustrated. But to truly appreciate those 13 projects, you must read the introduction and the ensuing pages that precede the homes.
In the book’s introduction Mark discusses his philosophy and approach to design. He talks of Purpose as being more than his client’s aspirations of home. The home needs to have/contribute meaning to where it is built. He speaks of Collaboration as having three components – Narrative, Meaning and Pattern of Use. He poses several very simple and profound questions. “What is the specific family story we are trying to interpret, and how does that narrative come out in each of our homes? What is the meaning of that narrative to our clients? How will the house anticipate the needs of it’s residents?” Other key notions Mark refers to are Cultural Context, Stewardship, Beauty and Craft – taking you from the larger scale question of how does the surrounding community and/or nature influence one’s design decisions to the equally important expression the littlest detail thru using the right material and the right way.
Let’s take quick look at the residence on Grey Barn Farm, a working organic farm in Chilmark. I’m going to pull words and phrases from the book’s description of the home.
“A new building designed to appear as though it began life as a 19th century barn and was repurposed as a contemporary residence.”
“…language and strategies of adaptive reuse.”
“… a muli-layered architectural composition…”
“…livability from the best of history and modernity.”
“…reaching back in time to regional values and giving these values a freshness and relevance that is appropriate to, and at home in, the present day.”
Now the images, remembering the words…
From a personal perspective, having grown up in farm country of upstate New York, I easily see the story being told of blending old and new in the architecture. I can appreciate the honest straight forward use and expression of materials. Maybe this is why I am so drawn to Belgian Style which also artfully dances with old and new and whose story is of drawing from and reinterpreting their history and architecture for today’s modern lifestyle.
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