The Spa Creek House is a modern residence located on a narrow, irregularly shaped lot in Annapolis, Maryland. It is modestly scaled with about 2,800 square feet of living spaces designed for a couple with a passion for art and sailing. It was designed by GriD Architects, the same studio behind the Ridge House in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, which was featured on our site.
On a narrow irregularly shaped lot fronting Spa Creek in Annapolis, Maryland this house slips between its neighbors and emerges buoyantly as it lilts towards the creek’s edge. Eschewing traditional ornamentation, the house is formally abstract, modestly scaled, and simply clad to resonate with the local maritime culture. Designed for a couple with a passion for art and sailing, the house becomes a canvas for both these interests simultaneously.
The house’s preeminent focus is on its promenade and connection to the waterfront. The desire for connectivity is equally about views and physical access. To set the stage for this, the program elements are layered across the site with “private” support spaces arrayed towards the street and along the landward property lines. The more “public” living spaces are dispersed closer the water. The functional distinction is made diagrammatically legible through the massing strategy and amplified by material contrast.
Support spaces live tightly packed within one of two platonic metal boxes and living spaces are associated with a stepped wood volume, which hovers over the living room and projects out to the water. The contrast between these complementary volumes is amplified by the subtle angle with which the wood box shifts to follow the property line, running along the southern edge of the lot. This allows the living spaces on both levels – the living room on the ground and the master bedroom on the upper – to open up expansively, rendering them spatially dynamic.
They seem to break free of the constraints of the narrow lot. Adding to this thrust towards the creek, the volume of the house literally breaks free from the height restrictions defined by local zoning. This allows the roof of the wood box to step up until the master bedroom achieves a lofty vertical proportion. Here the promenade terminates at a covered balcony with commanding views across the creek to Historic Annapolis.
The simple metal boxes containing the support spaces are composed on the site so that one passes through them upon entering the house – as if through a breach in the street edge. The entry is punctuated by a raw steel canopy that links both boxes. The solidity of the larger volume, running along the northern edge of the lot, erodes as it transitions from pantry to kitchen, then to dining, before opening dramatically onto an exterior deck. The upper floor houses the guest suite, laundry, and master bathroom.
The smaller of the two volumes, set to the south, contains a garage that accommodates two cars parked in tandem. This configuration minimizes the width of the garage as it faces the street. At the farthest extent of the garage, as it slips under the wooden volume, is an ornamental stair which is both carved from the garage volume and cantilevered out into the living room. The stair itself creates a seam between “public” and “private”, both horizontally and vertically, puncturing the simple southern facade to allow the landing to peak out facilitating unique views of the creek.