Before the Cape Cod National Seashore was declared public land in 1959, the grassy dune landscape was already dotted with a handful of Bauhaus-inspired beach houses. Built by a strain of rogue bohemian architects, the houses served as beloved, experimental cottages until the land underneath them was seized by the federal government. Many of the houses were abandoned and left to slowly rot in the landscape, whether or not they were protected by historical status.
Architect, preservationist and filmmaker Malachi Connolly has been researching these houses since 2008, while also serving as a board member of the Cape Cod Modern House Trust. Recently he turned his efforts into Built on Narrow Land, a short film examining the houses’ histories, touching on eminent domain’s effect on natural landscape and architectural history. The film premiered in 2013 at the Provincetown International Film Festival, and Connolly spoke with us on the occasion of the film’s screening at the 2014 Los Angeles Architecture & Design Film Festival.
We discuss how Connolly's film came to be, the limitations of architecture preservation, and what the architectural design process can learn from filmmaking. Listen below:
Watch the trailer for Built on Narrow Land below.
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