The website of Locative DRD, a company founded by architects Ian and Zofia Weiss, includes one project — a contemporary residence located at 57 Union Street in Belfast that they built in 2008 after relocating here from the architectural hothouse of New York City.

The couple applied their architectural theory to question of “what a house in Maine should be,” and settled on a combination of two themes: the Rational House (construction designed to stand up to Maine’s hard winters and conserve fuel) and the Emotional House (relating to people and place).

The online description of the house offers an impressive list of the “rational” specs, including double walls packed with a foot of insulation and multiple arrays of solar thermal hot water tubes to keep the house cozy in the winter. The materials came from local sources, and the couple cut costs by doing much of the work themselves.

The narrative concludes on a spiritual note:

“In January 2010 we moved in. When the sun shined, our solar array made hot water, even when it was 15 degrees Fahrenheit outside. We were thrilled to be so warm. Yet, the Rational House’s performance in the winter conditions told half the story of our satisfaction with it. The Emotional House was the one we really lived in, wrapped inside an energy-efficient super-insulated rational shell.”

Outside the feeling was different.

“You mean the horse barn?” said Alan Pickering, who lives several houses down.

From his windows he has unobstructed views of the austere north face of the Locative house. “They weren’t shooting for making it fit with the neighborhood,” he said. “They were shooting for their own look and conserving energy.”

Pickering’s remarks were typical of what many neighbors and passers-by have been saying about the house — that it doesn’t fit in with the other homes in the dense residential neighborhood around it.

Sometimes this comes as a simple observation, as in the case of one neighbor who called the house, “funky and kind of cool, and totally out of place.” But more often it’s framed as a criticism. And though those who have gone inside the house have reported a more sympathetic feeling toward the concepts at work, as another neighbor put it: “Most of the community is going to have a relationship to it that’s from the exterior.”

The home, perched on a ledge like a giant Monopoly hotel, is vastly larger than those directly across the street, many of which were built to house the workers of various former waterfront industries.

The design of the Locative house is at least a century ahead of anything within view, and where the older homes favor vertical lines, the Locative house — from the letterbox windows to the extrapolated paneling that screens the front stairs and the cable railings of the upstairs decks — is all horizontal. Making matters worse, the building, which is situated on the north side of the road, faces the sun, and as such presents its unadorned backside to the rest of Union Street.

“That’s the side you don’t want to lose any heat from, so I understand,” said Pickering. The rationale, however, didn’t make it any nicer to look at.

Despite the demographic shift on Union Street in the decade since the Penobscot Poultry Company plant and other downtown factories closed — a time during which retirees and professionals stepped in to take advantage of the water views — the look of the housing stock has not changed dramatically.

When Pickering and his wife added a modest garage to their home, they took this into account. “My wife drew it out on a piece of paper and gave it to [local contractor] Larry Jones and said, ‘Make it look like the house.’”

Others expressed a similar view about the value of consistency in the neighborhood.

“It’s not like these are architectural gems,” said a neighbor, who asked not to be named, “but there’s a cohesiveness, and this is just completely the antithesis of the neighborhood.”

The Weisses moved to Poland around a year ago. Among the neighbors there are different stories. Some say the couple had to attend to family matters — Zofia is from Gdynia, Poland, where the Weisses live today — while others say they planned to stay in Belfast but couldn’t find enough work to support their business. Another suggested the house was always speculative.

VillageSoup contacted the Weisses and at Ian’s request, posed these and other questions to them by email.

He responded: “Thank you for describing the piece you’re planning to write. Now that we know more, we’re going to decline answering your questions.”

A year earlier, the Weisses spoke to Maine Home + Design. The front-page article, which appears on newsstands this month under the title “Small City Dreams: Two designers create their sustainable home in Belfast,” serves up an uncritical reading of the architects’ vision for the house, carefully skirting anything that could pass for a complication.

Interior photos show the couple at work and leisure, suggesting, as the title does, that they still live there. Exterior shots — though consistent with other photos in the magazine, in their exclusion of surrounding buildings — give the impression that the home sits on a secluded piece of property.

According to MH+D Managing Editor Rebecca Falzano, the reporting and photography for the piece were done a year in advance to meet the magazine’s print schedule, which requires two months between proofs and publication. In other words, the scenes in the January/February 2012 edition described as “a snowy day in December, the same time of year Ian and Zofia first laid eyes on Belfast,” were captured in December 2010.

Sometime after Falzano interviewed the Weisses, she learned that the couple no longer lived in the home. The magazine, however, had already made an investment in telling the story of the vision behind the home, she said.

“For a home shelter magazine, it’s about the décor, it’s about the energy efficiency, it’s about the materials used, it’s about the architectural vision, it’s about the players who are involved,” she said. “We’re not a newspaper. It’s not current events.”

According to Lynn Boynton of G.R.F. Real Estate Company, the Locative home has been on the market for roughly six months.

Asked if people have looked at it, she said, “We’ve had a few,” but noted that the price recently came down from $675,000 to $645,000.

“It’s a different kind of house,” she said. “It’s not going to appeal to everybody. It’s much more contemporary than anything around it.”

On a recent snowy day, Jerry Kaplan, who lives on High Street but walks his beagle Emma past 57 Union Street several times a day, offered a slightly different take on the familiar refrain.

“It’s out of scale right here,” he said. “But interesting.”

Kaplan and Emma walked some distance down the street then turned around. On the way back, they stopped and Kaplan struck up a conversation with a neighbor who shared his view that the building had some redeeming qualities, despite being an oddball.

“If they hadn’t built that, what would be there?” she said.

She swept her arm toward the houses on the other side of the street, then answered her own question.

“Another house like these,” she said.