Mobile homes don’t usually win prestigious design awards, but an innovative structure on Martha’s Vineyard did last week. On Jan. 30 the Boston Society of Architects announced its annual awards, and in the category of “housing design,” it recognized a movable concrete structure in the upscale town of Chilmark.
The house was designed by the architectural firm Peter Rose + Partners and is located (for now) on a bluff above the Atlantic. It has all the luxury of a typical Vineyard estate — Douglas fir and Alaskan cedar planked walls, radiant heat, planted roof caps. Unlike its neighbors, however, this house is made to move. It’s made from a collection of large concrete boxes that, as the judges’ notes from the design competition explain, can be “hoisted up and lifted away from the site should erosion occur.”
In previous eras, monumental size and an air of permanence were marks of a grand dwelling. But the times they are a changin’. The Globe reported in September that a number of Nantucket homes are in danger of falling into the ocean. If Mother Nature comes calling for East House, as it’s known, she’ll find the lot empty and the house safe on higher ground.Kevin Hartnett is a writer in South Carolina. He can be reached at email@example.com.