If ever there was a house that begged to be embraced, it is the unassuming cottage on a small coastal pond in Edgartown, on the southern edge of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Measuring just 1,700 square feet, the three-bedroom house, situated on a compact piece of property, is a year-round refuge that demonstrates how carefully rendered principles of art and science can converge to give homeowners everything they need, while showcasing spectacular views, rugged natural materials, local artisanry, and sustainability.

Finding the right partner to realize the homeowner’s vision was effortless. “They knew about us and followed our work, so they just approached us and announced, ‘We’re ready to do our house,’” recalls Gregory Ehrman, partner at Hutker Architects. “It was the most natural pairing ever.”

Ehrman and Sean Dougherty, principal at Hutker Architects, saw both the beauty and the challenges of the site right away. Where a small decaying house had stood, they knew it would be paramount to weave the design with the natural setting and the Vineyard’s artistic culture to create a house that matched the homeowners’ vision. Today, the property is a joy: at once simple, dramatic, and right at home.

Approaching the residence from the parking court, a ramp gently slopes upward to take visitors to the glass front entry. The door reveals the first scenic look of the pond and ocean, which appear through generous windows on the water side of the house. The structure’s core, topped by a gabled copper roof, is its sturdy center. Adjoining are five flat-roofed cubes, built on helical piers, that appear to float on seagrass. The cubes house the more personal spaces, including a bedroom and bath and an office, appearing to float on seagrass. Says Dougherty, “The home is very simply settled on the land.” The easygoing comfort of the exterior belies the exacting science that went into its design.

Photograph by Marc Fairstein | ozorac

“Behind the challenges of the design are very familiar forms,” Dougherty explains. “The center gable is classic New England style while the more contemporary structures are clad in shingles.” At the heart of the design are sustainability principles, where much of Doughtery’s work continues to be focused at Hutker Architects. Because of its proximity to the water, the size of the house was contained to a point just beyond the previous home’s footprint. The upward-sloping walkway that leads to the raised entrance and dwelling is carefully lined with gardens, creating the subtle elevation necessary for rising sea levels.

With a primary focus on resiliency, Dougherty pushed the envelope to create a certified passive, net-zero–energy building by PHIUS + Source Zero. The home generates more energy than it consumes. The foundation and landscape elements are encased in Cor-Ten steel, which has a naturally weathered patina that grows more striking through the years.

Inside, rooms are filled with natural materials and personal artistic stamps of the homeowners, who are longtime islanders and involved in the arts. The central cathedral space, with an exposed structural steel frame and white oak ceiling, defines the dining area and the interior circulation that connects the primary social space with the private, more contemporary spaces. The more modern elements radiate from the central gable form and are tied together with a white oak floor, which changes slightly in pattern where the two types of spaces meet.

Rich details abound. On the side of the kitchen island are symbols dear to the homeowners, cut from a sheet of bronze. The leftover sheet hangs in the breakfast bar. A hutch in the dining area is topped with a wave pattern by Hutker and is reminiscent of a quilting pattern designed by one of the homeowners. Kitchen cabinets are clad in rough-sawn wood.

The work of local artisans and artists appears in almost every room, including work by the artist Allen Whiting. “The origin of the house and all that is within was inspired by our sense of place,” says Dougherty, who lives in Oak Bluffs.

Dougherty and Ehrman reveled in bringing the house to life, especially its sensibility and scale. “It was a wonderful project,” Dougherty says. “The clients are lovely people who are immersed in the local culture. It’s fitting that their home be an heirloom that will be enjoyed for generations.”

This home is featured in Hutker Architects’ latest book, New England Coastal: Homes that Tell a Story, which will be released June 12.

“New England Coastal: Homes That Tell a Story”

Hutker Architects is presenting this spring the firm’s third book, New England Coastal: Homes That Tell a Story. The book, including 200 original photographs, will be released June 12.

“Every house in this book is a residential heirloom,” says Mark Hutker, the founder of Hutker Architects, an award-winning firm in Falmouth, Mass. “Each design is deeply rooted in New England vernacular but with a modern sensibility.”

Several of the 13 houses that appear in the book have been covered in publications, including Ocean Home, Architectural Digest, and Veranda. Others have not been previously published.

New England Coastal: Homes That Tell a Story is available for preorder on Amazon. A collector’s edition will be available for purchase at book signings scheduled to begin in May and run through September. For event dates, visit hutkerarchitects.com.