• Oyster House

    CxMxD, Oyster House. Model.
    new york NEW YORK

    Oyster House sets a new standard for entry-level housing in Wellfleet, Cape Cod. Developable land in Cape Cod is at a premium since much of the open space is now protected natural landscape. By building smaller, Oyster House achieves more density with less impact on Cape Cod’s precious landscape. Oyster House uses less; less energy, less building material, less building area. Simultaneously, the house does more. Its pentagonal plan makes for easy siting in multiple orientations, maximizing privacy, permitting views, and responding to the sun’s path through the southern sky. The house is conceived of as a repeatable unit that can be deployed across multiple sites in the town of Wellfleet—as a single unit and as a community of houses.

    From the outside, the building is unassuming. Like its namesake, the Oyster House is dark and tactile on the outside, but light and opulent on the inside. It is clad in dark shingles, a Cape Cod vernacular, which protects the building from harsh winter storms. The exterior cladding is cut away to reveal the light and airy interior of the house. A gently sloping roof is steep enough to shed water but not so high that the heating bill gets out of control. The living room is complemented with a deck, designed to follow the natural slope of the surrounding topography. Both the house and deck are elevated to sit lightly on the ground.

    The Oyster House’s pentagonal form is broken up into 5 sectors, each occupying one side of the exterior facade. Each sector comprises the programmatic elements of a 700 square foot one bedroom house. They vary in size according to the program and are oriented from the inside-out to extend the space outward into the landscape. Entry into the building occurs on axis with the roof ridgeline. As you move from the entry and get deeper into Oyster House, each space gets progressively more private. The transition from one space to the next is mediated by a thickened threshold zone. This space occupies the middle of the building and is lit from above via a series of operable skylights.

    The Oyster House lends itself well to multiple site configurations. It works well alone or even in clusters. The pentagonal geometry allows the building to easily be tiled, rotated, and mirrored to optimize the building’s relationship to the immediate environment and the wider solar context of the region. Through aggregation, the Oyster House further exemplifies its versatility. Formation of clusters creates miniature urban ecosystems. The design is intended to foster a sense of community while still allowing for varying levels of privacy.

    Construction of the house will take advantage of CNC technology and digital modeling techniques. Advanced coordination and planning means less waste during construction. Structurally insulated panels will be prefabricated and flat-packed in nearby factories, driving down cost, and increasing quality of construction. All the embedded intelligence within a digital model would be used not just for design, but also for construction. This technology has become widely used to efficiently allocate material quantities and sizes.

    /// Project Data

    Name: Oyster House
    Type: Competition open to designers, artists, architects in the United States
    Size: 700 squrare feet
    Location: Wellfleet, Cape Cod, Massachusetts


    CxMxD is pleased to announce the results of the final jury for Add-on’13, affordable accessory dwelling for the outer Cape competition. After careful deliberations, the jury awarded the first place to CxMxD’s Oyster House entry.
    The evaluation criteria were based on aesthetics, livability, buildability (coherence of design and detail), site strategy and the social space of the cluster proposal. The winning project by CxMxD addressed the cluster of three units as an outdoor space with communal qualities. The jury thought that the project has potential for further development in this context.

    The jury process included the public vote, which was considered as one jury member, and the jury members: Mary-Ann Agresti, Tulay Atak, Malachi Connolly, Kenneth Frampton, Peter McMahon, Duks Koschitz, William O’Brien Jr., Gary Sorkin, Anne Tate.

    The exhibition, Conditions / Environments travels to The Boston Society of Architects headquarters in Boston opening early October.

    /// About Add-on’13

    Add-on’13, an open competition for a freestanding affordable housing unit on Outer Cape Cod, intends to bring fresh thinking to the critical issue of affordable housing by connecting local stakeholders with the broader design community. The emphasis will be on innovative designs which also address energy consumption and resource conservation.The town of Wellfleet, has enacted a bylaw, that allows for an additional affordable rental unit on the lot of an existing house.The goal is to facilitate incremental and diffuse growth of much needed affordable housing as more home owners (and surrounding towns) participate.

    /// About CxMxD

    CxMxD is a multidisciplinary design collaboration led by Christopher Lee with Mengyi Fan and Dungjai Pungauthaikan. CxMxD experience is firmly planted in architecture but also extends into the worlds of motion graphics, visualization, furniture design, and graphic design.

    For more information, email:

    /// About the Add-On ’13 Competition & Conditions/Environments Exhibit

    Designs for Affordable Accessory Dwellings on the Outer Cape
    In “A Home Is not a House,” the architectural historian Reyner Banham mentioned the Cape Cod cottage as the example of traditional American architecture’s tendency against monumentality. In opposition to the “hollow shell,” the “great outdoors” stood as the monument. Banham suggested technologically conditioned environments to be a possible way out of this opposition. The hollow shell / great outdoors relationship is more complex when considering the works of several modern architects on Cape Cod. From Chermayeff to Breuer, a number of architects and artists extended their own understandings of modernity to the Cape as they experimented with the limits and boundaries of conditioned environments.

    Conditions / Environments brings together the results of Add-On’13, a competition for an affordable accessory dwelling on the outer Cape. The scarcity and high cost of undeveloped land along with the area’s changing demographics have caused a lack of affordable housing, which threatens the region’s diversity and economic health. According to the latest census, Cape Cod lost up to 40% of its young people since 2000. Businesses and towns have difficulty attracting and retaining workers. The town of Wellfleet has sought to encourage an incremental increase in affordable rental housing through an Accessory Dwelling Bylaw that allows a second living unit to be built on the lot of an existing home, provided it has the septic capacity. Add-on’13 was a two phase competition for an Accessory Dwelling [AADU] of 800 sq ft and received more than 120 entries in its first phase. During a public forum at the Wellfleet library in May the finalists, selected by the jury, presented their proposals. After the forum they further developed their designs exploring strategies for sustainability and a mini-cluster of three units. The projects shown here explore AADUs as conditioned environments. Several proposals have sought to create synthetic landscapes, which are not to frame views, but to be inhabited. Several others have used appropriation as a strategy for making Banham’s “hollow shell” into a conditioned environment by employing vernacular house types. Several architects and designers have addressed the need for compactness to decrease energy consumption and to tread lightly on an already fragile land and infrastructure system. Finally others have sought strategies of dispersion by creating varied modular spaces that maintain a sense of interiority and privacy while expanding into the landscape. Conditions / Environments displays possibilities generated by AADUs in this region.

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