A New Eco-Friendly Home Emerges From a Tired Structure on Long Island’s Wetlands

Josh Manes Architecture imagines protruding and receding volumes to maximize solar energy and frame 360-degree views.

When Josh Manes and his wife, Jaclyn "Jack" Manes, set out to rebuild a weathered family home on Long Island, the couple wanted the new structure to be both sustainably designed and better adapted to the surrounding wetlands. The final result—which merges Josh’s talents as an architect and Jack’s as a designer—achieves a warm, modern look with materials that also lowered the carbon footprint of construction.

Located in Westhampton Beach on New York’s Long Island, this recently built home by Josh Manes Architecture is surrounded by preserved wetlands. The house is powered by a solar array on the rooftop while expansive windows, along with cantilevers and recessed sections, address solar heat gains.

Inside, the voluminous living area features a double-height fireplace clad in cedar and large-format tiles—both of which are echoed along the facade as well. Full-height windows wrap around the opposite corner, providing an abundance of sunlight and helping to naturally heat the space during wintertime.

"The property sits on preserved wetlands that are beautiful in their own natural state," says Josh. "For that reason, we wanted to respect the surroundings and build within generally the same footprint as the old house." The duo began drafting their ideas in 2015, not beginning construction until several years later and altering plans as their priorities began to change.

"The original structure was one-and-a-half stories, with the majority of common spaces and bedrooms on the lower level," adds Josh. "We wanted to create a true two-story home that would not only accommodate our growing family, but also take advantage of the views." 

Another perspective of the living area shows the adjacent kitchen and dining room, which feature cedar cladding along the ceiling to visually unite all of the spaces.

Josh and Jack in the kitchen with their daughter, Marlowe. "There are many commonalities between building a family and building a home," says Jack. "Both require trying to figure out what you want your future to look like and each can be very unpredictable, teaching you to roll with the changes and adapt."

A key design priority was the structure’s solar orientation in order to make it as energy independent as possible. "The house sits at a 45-degree angle from the street and there’s not a traditional front or back," Josh explains. Instead, the design is a 360-degree experience enhanced by the wrap-around terrace, numerous windows, and spatial arrangements that recess and protrude along the structure.

"The bedrooms are all oriented on different sides of the house, and the expansive windows capture different moments of light or shadow throughout the day while helping with solar heat gain in the wintertime," he continues. "On the south side, each bedroom is also cantilevered to shade the space below and block out the harsh solar gain in the summertime." 

Vermont Danby Marble along the countertops features blue veining that nods to the home’s waterfront location. Sliding glass doors open the dining area to the surrounding outdoor space.

Additional connections between the indoors and out are reflected in the material selection. "On the exterior of the home, we complemented the cedar with porcelain tiles that act as a rain screen for parts of the facade," Josh explains. "We chose cedar because it’s commonly used in the Hamptons, but usually on the outside of a home," Jack adds. "We thought it would be interesting to integrate cedar throughout the home and bring some warmth inside as well." 

Upstairs, the principal suite features sliding glass doors along two exposures, offering direct access to the partially covered outdoor area.

"Overall, we also placed emphasis on selecting materials that were certified non-toxic, low VOC, and contribute to a low-carbon footprint." says Jack. "It’s something we practice in our everyday life, from the food that we eat to the clothes that we buy. So, of course, it was very important to us when selecting our furnishings, including the Avocado Green Mattresses in each bedroom." 

The couple selected an Avocado Green Mattress for all of the home’s bedrooms. "We wanted a product that was better for our health and better for the planet," comments Jack. "Each Avocado Mattress is low VOC, non-toxic, made from organic materials."

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The en suite bathroom features a soaking tub and windows overlooking the marshy waters.

"As both the designers and clients, we didn’t have the constraints that might come with traditional projects, which was both good and bad," comments Josh. "We simply had to figure out what’s important to our family in order to have a successful home that will last for generations and won't feel dated a few years from now." 

Glass railings line the upper-level walkways while cedar accents a skylight in the foyer.

A look at the wrap-around outdoor area along the upper level. A covered, cantilevered section provides shade to both the lower level rooms as well as the principal suite. 

"Here, we see the congregation of deer and wild turkeys, as well as cranes, swans, and various other types of birds," says Josh. "After five years of designing this home together, it felt surreal to wake up that first morning and look out to the landscape," adds Jack.  

Completed in fall 2020, the modern residence balances its delicate location with near energy independence—powered by solar panels and a clever design.

Project Credits: 

Architecture & Interior Design: Josh Manes Architecture / @joshmanes.architecture

This content was created by Dwell Creative Studio, the brand marketing arm of Dwell.


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