Sagaponack, Sagaponack, United States
Bates Masi Architects

Located between the Atlantic Ocean and a freshwater pond, this residence is for an adventurous couple and their four sons completed in 2012. They wanted a house for their large family and numerous guests with a lawn, swimming pool, pool house, garage, and sports courts on a site with a limited building envelope due to coastal and wetland zoning. The large program, relatively small footprint, and daunting regulations dictated a building envelope densely packed with program that stood as a barrier between the ocean and the pond. Thus the design process was one of subtraction rather than addition: carving away at the solid mass of the house to reconnect site features and views and to distil the experience of the place. 

The design strategy to accommodate the extensive program is to nest spaces within one another. Operable partitions pull out from the walls of the living room, carving out a media room within the living room when privacy is desired. Conversely, with the partitions open, the media room merges with the living room for large gatherings. 

The process of carving is applied at the material and detail level as well. The 5/8” corten steel plate that clads the base of the house is waterjet cut into a delicate pattern that defies its mass. Inside, corian countertops are cut to form towel bars, bunk bed frames are carved to create ladders, cabinet doors are recessed to form handles, and wainscoting is subtly etched with meaningful words chosen by the clients.

Materials were chosen not only for their workability, but also for their durability in the harsh coastal environment. The lack of harsh stains or finishes reduces the ecological footprint of the house. Geothermal heating and cooling as well as vegetated roofs further reduce the environmental impact.

Using the design approach of sculpting away rather than building up, the house is pared down until the experience of the extraordinary site is dominant.

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