A Zinc-Clad Hamptons Home Gracefully Extends Above a Protected Floodplain
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A Zinc-Clad Hamptons Home Gracefully Extends Above a Protected Floodplain

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By Kathryn M.
Three volumes unite to create an atypical Hamptons home on a property that is 50% unbuildable due to wetlands.

When clients approached Brooklyn–based Office of Architecture to create a 6,000-square-foot summer house in the oceanside town of Southampton, New York, the team was initially worried about the brief. "Our immediate concern was that the lot—located in a FEMA floodplain, on a property that is approximately 50% unbuildable wetlands—wouldn’t deliver the square footage or the living spaces required to create a ‘Hamptons Home,’" explains the firm's founder Aniket Shahane. 

Taking advantage of the sloping site, the architects designed the three-level Watermill House to appear as a single-story home from the street.

Taking advantage of the sloping site, the architects designed the three-level Watermill House to appear as a single-story home from the street.

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Yet after further research, the team saw the limiting conditions as a source of inspiration. "A bit of a double-edged sword, the natural wetlands that cut through the property were both beautiful and fragile. As such, they came with restrictions regarding how and how much we could build—but, that's actually what forced us to think creatively," says Shahane.

Stretching across 6,000 square feet, the home is comprised of three adjoining boxes: the public wing, the guest wing, and the family wing.

Stretching across 6,000 square feet, the home is comprised of three adjoining boxes: the public wing, the guest wing, and the family wing.

The result is the Watermill House. Built as three gently lifted boxes surrounding a central courtyard and infinity pool, the sleek new residence gracefully straddles the floodplain while creating a variety of interstitial spaces between the building and landscape.

The home features several interstitial outdoor areas, including a skylit terrarium which helps to naturally illuminate the interiors.

The home features several interstitial outdoor areas, including a skylit terrarium which helps to naturally illuminate the interiors.

Spacious and highly functional, the polished kitchen features customized bespoke cabinetry. Built-in benches along a glazed corner provide plentiful seating.

Spacious and highly functional, the polished kitchen features customized bespoke cabinetry. Built-in benches along a glazed corner provide plentiful seating.

The adjoining zinc-clad volumes separate the 6,000-square-foot abode into three sections: the public wing, the guest wing, and the family wing. Each wing is strategically elevated to allow all the heated areas and critical infrastructure to rest above the floodplain.

A peek at the master bedroom and bath. Like the rest of the home, these rooms receive ample natural light and are fitted with a neutral material palette to foster a calm, tranquil setting.

A peek at the master bedroom and bath. Like the rest of the home, these rooms receive ample natural light and are fitted with a neutral material palette to foster a calm, tranquil setting.

"These volumes organize the primary indoor areas such as living rooms, bedrooms, baths, and mechanical rooms, while interstitial spaces between the house and ground foster a series of outdoor rooms including a carport, a courtyard, a pool pavilion, a terrarium, and roof terraces," adds Shahane.

Lifted high above the property, the cantilevered family wing is supported by two large columns.

Lifted high above the property, the cantilevered family wing is supported by two large columns.

A spacious pool patio sits under the cover of the extended family wing above.

A spacious pool patio sits under the cover of the extended family wing above.

"Good design isn't always about how a house ‘looks.’ It's also about how it ‘acts’; the flair with which it overcomes problems." —Aniket Shahane

A carport is tucked under one of the home's elevated wings.

A carport is tucked under one of the home's elevated wings.

"To incorporate the requirements of the owners in a way that didn't shortchange the design of the house or disturb the wetlands was a real challenge," continues the architect. "We had to be resourceful with the various municipal restrictions on the property in order to give shape to both outdoor as well as indoor rooms."

"Rather than fight the constraints imposed by the land, we saw this as an opportunity to capture a variety of spaces that could exist under, over, and between the building and the landscape," says Shahane. "A palette of cedar, limestone, and zinc elegantly ties everything together."

"Rather than fight the constraints imposed by the land, we saw this as an opportunity to capture a variety of spaces that could exist under, over, and between the building and the landscape," says Shahane. "A palette of cedar, limestone, and zinc elegantly ties everything together."

Related Reading: 21 Finely Finessed Getaways in the Hamptons and MontaukA Green Home Surrounded by Wetlands Is the Perfect Refuge From the Big Apple

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Office of Architecture / @aniketshahane

Builder: Aran Construction 

Structural Engineer: Blue Sky Design

Landscape Design: Summerhill Landscapes

Cabinetry Design: Shearman Cabinets

Furnishings: Friedman Moore

MEP Engineering: Altieri, Siebor, Wieber

Photographer: Rafael Gamo / @rafaelgamo