A vacation home along the Schuylkill River in Norristown, Pa., takes a unique approach to staying dry.

Situated on a former children's summer camp, the property is located on the banks of the river in an area that is prone to flooding up to two feet. Faced with the challenging site, Philadelphia architect Michael Ryan designed an elevated structure–perched on stilts–to create a modern and elegant atmosphere amid the Schuylkill’s distinct outdoor scenery.

“We wanted to create a refuge for the homeowners to escape the city and a design that would accent the beautiful nature that surrounded them,” says Ryan. “The surroundings of the project also created constraints for us to overcome, but these hurdles ultimately helped to create a house that is both resilient and unique.”

Ryan drew inspiration from the property’s waterfront setting and decided to focus the layout of the residence to correspond with the river. The elevated house presents an expansive view of the surrounding landscape. The firm saw the three primary spaces – living room, kitchen/dining area, and main bedroom – as a composition of spaces that react to a bend in the river.

The home recently won a Merit Award in the AIA New Jersey Design Awards Program for the striking design approach, says Justin Mihalik, president of AIA-NJ. “They did an excellent job of creating an amazing view of the river that creates a tranquil setting no matter where you are in the residence,” he says.