Text description provided by the architects. Little House on the Ferry is a seasonal guesthouse comprised of three micro cabins connected by a web of outdoor decks on Vinalhaven, an island off the coast of Maine in Penobscot Bay. The design is respectful of the balance that nature has struck on the island between harsh forces of wind and sea and a delicate layer of soil that provides a scant foothold for vegetation among granite outcroppings – some of which have been hewn by time, and others split and left behind as a visible memory of the once prevalent granite industry of Vinalhaven.
The owners, who reside primarily in Austria, spend their summers and early fall on the island, in a larger, older residence. When the adjacent property, a defunct granite quarry with a dilapidated trailer, became available, they purchased it, with plans to build a guesthouse for visiting family and friends.
The resulting small cabins hover on piers above a former quarry, an approach that has minimized the impact of the building construction on the delicate recovering vegetation in the area. The cabins are comprised of a living and dining cabin and two separate sleeping cabins, each with a bedroom and bathroom. This small cluster creates a series of intimate and private spaces with strong visual connections to the landscape.
Given the remote nature of the site, and the very fragile conditions of the building location, a prefabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) panel system was chosen. This system is a highly sustainable and cost effective construction solution, reducing labor, travel, and impact on the remote site. CLT panels utilize layers of lumber laminated together in a solid, bidirectional sandwich, and in this case were milled from Black Spruce and pre-cut to the exact building form in Quebec. The CLT panels were then shipped via truck and ferry and assembled on site, forming the entire enclosure for each building—floors, walls, and roofs. The structural capacity and ruggedness of the panels reinforce the minimalist form and material palette of the cabins, creating a clean, simple building form with material warmth that showcases the construction system.