The owners purchased 15 acres of tidal wetlands and former potato fields with the intention of building a house that would respond to and directly connect to its surrounding landscape. Even though most of the land was untouched by construction, the entire property was restored to a natural state by removing non-native invasives and adding indigenous plants. Because of the ever-increasing severity of storm surges, the owners agreed to raise the main living floor ten feet above the natural grade which consequently allows for wide, unobstructed views over the protected wetlands of Peconic Bay. The guest rooms, half a flight below, open out to the meadow which has been gently raised to protect these rooms from floodwaters.
The design incorporated European low-energy design details and materials which allow all building systems to be electrically powered and offset by a solar panel array.
A 100-mile drive from the Big Apple, the 15-acre property in Orient, New York, serves as a vacation retreat and refuge for a Brooklyn couple.
Gray cabinets are paired with granite countertops and a white marble island from Vermont.
A cantilevered birch and plywood desk appears to effortlessly float in midair. The wood box is attached to the wall with a blackened structural steel angle. “It’s a place to make a phone call, put down keys, plug in the iPhones,” says Ryall. “We liked the contrast of the structural steel and the more refined wood box, kind of the like the house, which itself is full of contrasts—rough/smooth, dark/light, open/closed.”
Ryall deftly integrated the home into its natural setting.
The home features expansive wetland views.
Tall indigenous wetland grasses grow fecund, right up to the border of the saltwater swimming pool.
The saltwater pool provides relief on hot summer days, and a neighboring mahogany deck is the perfect perch for lolling in the sun.
In the living room, the design team poured concrete in place using smooth board formwork to create the seamless fireplace.
“The fireplace extends the season,” says Ryall. “The owners probably use that porch six months out of the year.” The design team formed the fireplace’s concrete facade using rough wood boards to give it a rugged texture.
Concrete walls support the living space and elevate it from storm surges.
To bring the property back to its natural glory, landscape architect Lillian Ball removed invasive plantings and replaced them with indigenous landscaping.
Floor-to-ceiling glazing fills the entryway with light.
Floor-to-ceiling sliding doors open to the great outdoors, and industrial-grade metal screens keep bugs from entering and provide protection for those standing up against windows.
- Manuele Contracting