days, as passive solar features like this overhang and good ventilation
keep the house comfortable.)
Like a classic Maine seaside cottage, this house eschews all frills.
There is no cleverness for its own sake, nothing is designed solely to
impress. There are just comfortable and practical spaces that look out
upon the water. A wall of cabinets separates the master bedroom from
the kitchen. The dining room table is a simple trestle, constructed of
lumber from a mill in Biddeford, Maine, and designed by Wilson and
Engler. There are no rugs on the ash floors, nor any baseboards or crown
mouldings. The end wall of the living room has a built-in Wittus fireplace
inside and, outdoors, a fireplace that heats the porch on cool evenings.
The house is a Down East camp — a gathering place for the fam-
ily. Identical upstairs bedrooms welcome children and guests, while
the double bunk room is the ideal lair for grandchildren. But mostly
the house is about views: walls of glass and the lack of hallways make
for a constant panorama of Maine landscape.
Despite the owners’ admiration of Mies van der Rohe, their Carol
Wilson house is not coolly intellectual. Wilson’s whimsical play of
spaces seems closer in spirit to that other great 20th-
century architect, Le Corbusier. Both Mies and Le Corbusier were responding to Frank Lloyd Wright’s revolutionary “breaking of the box.” But here, Wilson has
taken the box apart and put it back together — not for
show, but to create spaces that make her clients feel close to and at ease
with the spectacular landscape that surrounds them.
Wilson’s Modernism is not foreign to Maine. She believes that
rational structure defines economy and nourishes humanity; this island
home expresses architecture’s ethical responsibility to the environment. After a couple of “glorious summers” here, its owners report,
“somewhat to our surprise, the house has a life and spirit of its own, a
spirit which reminded us how lucky we are, but also challenged us to
live up to its expectations for us.”
the window walls of the master bedroom (facing page, top) slide back,
further dissolving the barrier between the house and the view of sea and
islands beyond. Pocket doors in the bunk room (facing page, bottom) can
slide out to separate the space into two rooms. The screened porch (above) is
complete with a fireplace for chilly Maine evenings. Here, too, the “walls” act
as canvases of the view rather than as enclosures.