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Jamestown Residence

Jamestown, Rhode Island
Date 2018
Size 2,300 SF
Client Donald and Dana Powers
  • RI Monthly Design Awards Gold Residential Renovation, 2019
  • Best in America Living Awards Platinum Award for Green Entire Home Remodel, 2020

How does a single, carefully crafted, and energy-efficient cottage fit into Union’s mission of making a community?

Well, one obvious answer is that neighborhoods are made up of individual buildings. To the extent that each one contributes a little to the whole, every individual home is a chance to connect to and extend the community.

The rehabilitation of this century-old cottage provided the opportunity for it to serve families for the next 100 years. Expanding upon the house’s historic charm, the building grew from 1,000 to 2,300 square feet to accommodate a family of four. The materials and colors are simple and continuous throughout to create a soothing palette that can truly be a retreat for the family.

An important goal for us at Union was to embed this home in the local traditions that are recognizably of the building’s place, Jamestown, Rhode Island. Working within the patterns of the Jamestown shingled bungalow – with its simple one-story roof, shed dormers, and cedar shingled walls – offers a framework to affirm and strengthen those traditions. At the same time, updating the cottage allows for a new interpretation that brings to light what may have been unconsciously considered settled and complete.

It was also important as this home was expanded to focus on its energy use and the positive impact each building can have on the climate. With design and construction strategies such as creating a tight building envelope to reduce air leakage, increased insulation in the walls and roof, efficient HVAC systems, and a photovoltaic solar array, the house targeted net-zero energy usage.

Solar panels cover the garage roof, which defines the edge of the garden and backyard.

But inside and out, this house holds much more than just clean, comfortable spaces for family and friends. Another major goal for the renovation was that it would meet the net-zero building standard, which requires that a house be able to produce all the energy it needs. All the elements are in place, although lifestyle matters in meeting the energy goals as well.

Second story spaces including a hallway with built-in shelves.
Kitchen with large island overlooks the living space.

So, part of the answer to why a community-focused firm would spend so much effort on a single, old bungalow is that a house is not just a house. It is a statement to the community and an offering to the neighbors. The best places are not just physical constructs. They feel “right” because they are recognizably rooted in history and speak with a vocabulary that reinforces that elusive sense of place. With this house, we are seeking to connect to the essence of Jamestown, to respectfully fit in, and to contribute, surprise, and delight.

Living room and piano nook overlook the backyard and screened porch.