A Green Home Surrounded by Wetlands Is the Perfect Refuge From the Big Apple
"It’s a house that is about looking out," says architect William Ryall at Ryall Sheridan Architects, a Manhattan-based firm that specializes in designing low-energy residences. "We started with the land and looking at the views."
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The vistas and great outdoors naturally took precedent when designing the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house. "You can always get outside, wherever you are," says Ryall.
Formerly farmland, the low-lying area is comprised of marshes, and it’s susceptible to storm surges due to its location on Peconic Bay. Taking into account the site’s unique topography and natural surroundings, Ryall wanted to make sure that the house connected to the landscape.
The new natural habitat now is home to insects, butterflies, and birds. "It was a heck of a lot of work to make it look like nothing had happened there," says Ryall.
To avoid flooding from storm surges, Ryall constructed the main living area ten feet above sea level. The lofty elevation opens up the space to panoramic views of the bay and its surrounding wetlands. Sliding doors with industrial-grade metal screens provide the option of al fresco living, but with protection from insects.
Throughout the 3,275-square-foot home Douglas fir wood floors and panels from Denmark warm the space. The wood’s blond finish and natural grain is highlighted by an abundance of natural light pouring in through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The master suite is located upstairs from the main living area, with a balcony carved in an indentation off the room. A shower and sitting area makes good use of the house’s outdoor living space.
Half a flight below the living area, two guest rooms open out onto the meadow, which Ryall slightly elevated to protect the space from floodwaters.
Ryall took a minimalist approach when designing the exterior. The main structure is perched on a concrete wall and foundation. Cedar boards are stained in a dark, almost black-looking gray, and underneath a high-tech membrane holds up against wind and rain, protecting the home from the elements. Industrial-grade stainless steel screens resist rust and hold up against the salty, humid atmosphere.
The home also incorporates low-energy design and materials. It's powered by a solar panels, features triple-paned windows from Germany throughout, and the walls are insulated with environmentally friendly cellulose.
"The house performs so well with its energy," says Ryall—the owner’s energy bill hovers around $20 per month. "It’s comfortable to have a well-insulated house."
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Builder: Philip Manuele, Manuele Contracting
Civil Engineer: Michael De Giglio, Cameron Engineering
Landscape Design: Lillian Ball Studio
Lighting Design: Star Lighting
Interior Design: Shaker Studio
Cabinetry Design: Robert Russell Design