Heather Skinner

Document Type

Thesis, Senior






Martha's Vineyard, colonial vernacular, reproduction of European colonization, preservation codes, historic bylaws, obedient architecture, aesthetic evolution, building diversity






Martha’s Vineyard architecture can be traced back to its broader roots in New England vernacular. The cape cod, first period, Gothic, and Greek revival homes are not unique to the Island, yet the strict preservation has kept the formal and stylistic components intact. This hyper preservation the island has made it a catalog of sorts.

This thesis is structured into two parts the Code and the Hack. The code pertains to the documentation of existing conditions and the bylaws which preserve them. The code is defined as the laws, bylaws, and standards, both physical and rhetorical, put in place to uphold the general aesthetic of the town. Codes restrict everything from form, size, roof pitch, windows, ornamentation, chimneys, material, and paint color. This veil of strict identity hides the social, political, and economic underpinnings of the Island. The script produced from the code yields conciliatory, obedient architecture. Merely nostalgic reproductions, this architecture fails to speak to the socio-economic diversity of the island today.

The code structured the framework in which a worked, mimicking the preservation documents that are broken into parts i.e. purpose, definition, and regulations. The “hack” challenges these codes to produce slightly odd and strangely familiar forms as a critique of the elitist system. Operating within these codes exposes the classist and elitist attitudes of the vineyard. Hacking these elements creates more accessible typology.

The purpose is to create a more accessible typology for worker housing. These workers include architects, painters, electricians, carpenter, waitresses and many more. The combination of these seemingly disparate elements produces what I’m defining as a composite. Coupled with the housing crisis, this thesis will result in a cohousing unit addressing accessibility, historic narratives, and housing typologies.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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