NO GRIDThis three-season retreat house for a writer sits on a remote island. Part of the appeal and the challenge of the island is the complete absence of infrastructure —no roads, electricity, stores, communication grid or ferry service. ACCESSIBLE SUSTAINABILITYWhile this sustainable house was built to fit terrain considerations, sun exposure, prevailing winds and view angles particular to this coastal site, its design has wider applications as off-the-grid houses that use renewable energy become more desirable and accessible to a wider population. Despite the project’s tight budget of 200k and multiple logistical constraints, it was important that it feel comfortable, calming and connected to the land. Henry David Thoreau’s desire to live deliberately and convene with nature, and his mantra to “simplify, simplify” found resonance with this contemporary cabin’s program to step back from mainland technology and provide a sheltering resting place to connect with the elements.CHALLENGESBuilding on this island required exceptional clarity and discipline regarding materials, design, and construction techniques. And since over 90% of the materials would be sent out to the island in one shipment, decisions had to be made well in advance. The house is planned on a grid system to standardize material sizes and quantities. While using the grid started as a pragmatic choice, its elegance and simplicity soon became the underlying principle of the project’s aesthetic. All the materials and infrastructural solutions used are cheap and easy to obtain. No special parts were made—just a whole lot of creative “re-purposing.” Rain water is harvested and stored in a painted PVC cistern, and photovoltaics gather and store solar energy in high capacity batteries and an aluminum clad shutter system protects against high winds. Despite—or, perhaps, because of the challenges involved in constructing this retreat house in concert with its local surroundings, the structure winds up opening its inhabitants to the elements both outside and within: a little sonnet of a home for the modern day, net-zero everyman.