To enter, one steps up to the living room level and can take the exciting stairs up to the sleeping balcony or down to the architect’s office. Turning around, the visitor is confronted with the upper level balcony in front of the bedrooms and baths.

What is contextual architecture? It can be considered the continuation of proportion and scale alone or architectural style as well. In the latter case context only exists when a whole residential block is built at about the same time by the same developer. When this is not the case, strong differences will inevitably occur. The question is – and the problem can be – the degree of difference.

The two adjacent homes at 1216 and

1220 Main St.

by architects Berry and Spatz are certainly different architecturally from their neighbors. In scale however they are a better fit and more “contextual” than the so-called “McMansions” that proliferate on the North Shore. The houses on

Main Street

do fit in size and scale, if not in style. Within their language, they are
well-conceived, good architecture. The McMansions, on the other hand, are out of scale and proportion, and often introduce historical motifs to show off. Simply, they are not good architecture.


1216 Main St.

, where architect Andy Spatz lives, defies simple description. One has to see it and experience the space. With the exception of bathrooms and closets, there are
no “enclosed” rooms. Rather, there are spaces that flow – spaces that are more than one story tall and  merge into each other daringly. Colors are a variety of grays with a bright red accent. Light penetrates unexpectedly. The details are beautifully crafted and often ingenious.

 Merely writing about this house
does it no justice; it must be experienced.

The photographs below offer
a mini-tour.