My name is John Warren. I met Andrea Tremols and Cedric Baele at an oyster roast last night in Charleston. They told me about their project and I told them about a series of photos I took of small dwellings out on Block Island, Rhode Island. They are mostly highly efficient summer homes that are are all uniquely designed to withstand sustained winds of over 100 miles per hour.
I photographed about 20 of them, but there are many more. I became interested in small dwellings when I went to Whidbey Island, Washington.
I didn’t take photos of them, but there are also numerous bungalow style houses in New York City down in Far Rockaway, Queens. These are interesting because they are basically very old low income housing and you get to see the stark contrast between the nearby project buildings and these small free standing structures with compact yards. I wish I’d gotten some some photos of these because many are in bad shape and I could imagine them getting demolished at any time.
Block Island is a fascinating place, think Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket 50 years ago. There are large houses on the island, but the modest scale of much of the architecture stems from a number of factors beginning with its remote location, a 12 mile ferry ride from the mainland. The wind is extreme and larger structures would be less wind resistant.
Everything tends to decay faster on the island, as a result of the salt spray and harsh winters, so renovation and upkeep are a constant battle as well.
Electricity costs on the island produced through burning coal are the highest in the nation, having a smaller structure with a wood stove is a no brainer.
One other interesting thing. The South Lighthouse also is rather small and stout for a lighthouse. This is because it is high up on a 200 ft bluff and doesn’t need to be especially tall. They actually moved the whole structure in a famous engineering/construction project away from the eroding bluff it was dangerously close to. The whole coastline is eroding quickly just like everything else on the island. Here is a link about that. http://www.nps.gov/maritime/nhl/blockisl.htm
Thank you John for taking all of these great photos and sharing them with us -Kent