"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."
– Jacques Cousteau
What is it about being and living in a place where the land meets the sea?
It is a place where beauty abounds; a place where one’s days are guided, not by an alarm clock or the bleep of a smart phone, but by the rhythm of the sun, the moon, and the tides. It is a place where life seems to slow down just a bit; a place to inhale salty air and feel sand on your feet; a place to soak in the rays of the sun or to heal a wound in the salty ocean surf; a place where fond memories are made and will be held in one’s heart forever.
Yet it is also a place on the edge, where calm lapping waters can surge into thundering surf; where the land is ever shifting; where the wind and sand can incessantly wear even the toughest we have to offer…and where sometimes we build too much and too big, losing sight of the respect and care that this delicate environment asks of us. It is a place where hardy ancestors came to cultivate the bounty of the sea, and build modest homes with calloused hands and sun-freckled skin.
It is a place that has always drawn throngs of visitors, bursting against the shore line of ever-eroding beaches. It is a place where so many rebuild again and again, despite being beaten and battered by the relentlessness of mother nature. It is surely a place of resilience.
What is it about the magnetic pull of this place?
For me, like many others, it started at a very young age, with day trips to the northern beaches of the Jersey shore (no, not the lame reality show) and week long family vacations on Long Beach Island. Then came the party rental houses during my late teens and early twenties, college in Rhode Island, “The Ocean State”, and just about 20 years ago, a full time move to northern Monmouth County, New Jersey, where our home is a short jaunt to many nearby Jersey shore bays, beaches, and towns.
And now, with a family of my own, we embrace living near the coast daily, and enjoy extended visits to Long Beach Island, Cape May, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to name a few. And while my wife and I sometimes dream of visiting far away places, we often stop to think how fortunate we are to live in a place of such natural and cultural beauty…a paradise in our own back yard.
As an architect, there is something deeply rewarding about designing homes and other seaside buildings for clients in coastal areas. This is particularly true when working on projects along the Jersey shore. The challenges and rewards are plentiful, yet I often feel conflicted designing in these places, where unique beauty resides in such a delicate balance between humankind and the natural world. When beginning work on a coastal project, the first question I often ask, is “Should we really be building here?" While I’m not always so sure, the answer for most clients is,“Yes, it’s been a lifelong dream of mine”. And I get that!
So what I say is this: If we are to design and build in these places, let’s do it in a way that will fulfill the dream of life along the sea, while respecting the culture, history, and natural environment in a way that reflects a progressive, laid-back lifestyle that is fitting for living along the coast.
And what does that look like? Well, draw starts with an architecture, design, and business manifesto, that is a foundation for living a life of simplicity by the sea, one that prioritizes people, place, and taking care of the earth on which we live. It is designing for resiliency.
So, draw launches this blog, where we hope to share our ideas, knowledge, and enthusiasm about architecture, design, and living a resilient life along the coast. We so look forward to this journey, and can't wait to hear your thoughts too...on what it means to live a good life along the sea!