Nolan and her buisness partner, Patrick Kennedy, strove for a practical structure that reads as a vacation house. They opted for prototypical materials, like cinder blocks for a privacy screen, to hit that note. “It has an association with old beach houses and public buildings at the shore,” Nolan says. After trying different self-supporting configurations, they chose a zigzag pattern. The wall shields the courtyard from wind and doubles as a step for gutter maintenance. During parties, the family likes to place candles into the recesses. “That wall’s got a little bit of poetry, but it’s also doing a few jobs as well.