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Swede Hill

Estes/Twombly Architects, Inc.

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  • Peter Twombly

Project Status



2,975 sq. feet


Design Awards

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Project Description

Block Island’s modest, forthright farmhouses with adjoining sheds and barns are an example of a truly regional architecture. Their low-scale and thoughtful siting serve to block the relentless winds and their weathered materials blend into the rugged landscape. This time-tested connected building type is adopted for the Swede Hill House. Here though, the three buildings, housing a great room, 3 bedrooms and a guest house, are folded around a courtyard to create a sheltered outdoor space on this high, windy site. The buildings are kept low and are clad in granite, cedar shingles, and copper – all materials that develop a weathered patina over time and that require minimal upkeep. Two “breezeway” connections between the buildings create privacy for the owner and guests. One serves as the entry and the other as a grilling porch. The 2 story bedroom wing splits levels with the main floor, nestling into the hillside to keep the profile low and to take advantage of the sloping site. Varied outdoor rooms and different degrees of shelter encourage outdoor activities during summer and the swing months. One can find sun or shade, breeze or calm by moving from front to back, porch to terrace and terrace to trellis. Deep overhangs, wood shingle roofs, and good cross ventilation keep the building cool in the summer. Interior detailing is simple and crisp with a consistent palate of materials running through the house: maple floors, fir cabinets and painted wood work. With the use of a rainwater collection system, native plantings, high performance insulation and solar hot water and pool heating this building is designed to LEED gold standards. The stone is reclaimed New England granite.
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