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Beauty and the Bunker

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Featured Company: Foster Associates - Location: Little Compton, Rhode Island - Project Type: Residence - Project Name: Little Compton #3

Photo by Warren Jagger Photography Inc,

By Margaret Poe

When Foster Associates set out to build an eco-friendly home in coastal Rhode Island, the company faced a few challenges. First was New England’s wariness of modern design—and its resultant zoning ordinances. And then there was the sealed World War II bunker creating a man-made hill on the property. The design team transcended those obstacles to create Little Compton #3, a three-story home with office space, ample guest rooms, and a bank of windows to soak in views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Foster principal Michele Foster explains how her team pulled it off. With a flat roof, the design allowed for three full floors with 10-foot ceilings—ensuring that the 30-foot zoning height limit would not be a problem. Foster notes that building the house on the hill gives each of the three floors different views and varying levels of privacy. And the crisp lines of its cedar cladding and aluminum windows set off the surroundings. “This building’s simplicity creates a background for the larger landscape,” she says.

It’s simple but sophisticated. The south-facing orientation makes the most of prevailing breezes, and solar panels top the green roof, which helps modulate the temperature. Foster incorporated recycled materials wherever possible during construction, which took just nine months thanks to the use of prefabricated wall panels and trusses.

Furthermore, the home is made for entertaining, with its ample guest suite, screen porch, and deck. “The [owners] like the modern open plan—the way the house takes advantage of multiple views and allows privacy for them and their houseful of guests,” Foster says. All thanks to a savvy design—and a well-placed bunker.

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