The owners of this striking coastal home knew exactly what they did not want when they began thinking about building a Hamptons beach house on the south shore of Long Island, N.Y.
“There are a lot of architectural styles in the Hamptons, including many Shingle Style houses,” explains Andrew Plumb, principal at Aamodt Plumb Architects of Cambridge, Mass. “The clients pointed to them and said, ‘We want the opposite of that.’ ”
Nestled on a narrow barrier island, with dramatic exposures to the Atlantic Ocean and Shinnecock Bay, the resulting family vacation home is a 7,000-square- foot, three-level contemporary structure that has won industry accolades, including an award for design excellence from the Boston Society of Architects.
The prestigious American Institute of Architects Center for Emerging Professionals in Washington, D.C., also selected the design for display. “Creating this house was like making a finely tailored suit,” Plumb says. “It’s an organic thing that grew out of conversations with the clients, and it’s modern in the sense that it’s of today, related to contemporary living.”
The environmentally sensitive site, flanked by sand dunes and the beach on one side and a salt marsh on the other, presented a number of design and building challenges.
The flood plain location dictated breakaway walls on the ground level, and local building codes required hurricane-proof structures. “The site is also very corrosive, it’s always in the sea air,” Plumb adds.
His plan, developed with his wife and architectural partner Mette Aamodt, places the house on concrete pilings that lift all but the garage above the flood plain. Concrete also forms the bones of the house itself.
“Concrete is durable,” says Plumb, ”but there’s also a beautiful relationship between the concrete and the beach. Sand is used to make concrete and it’s locally sourced, so the home’s building material is rooted in context. It’s both structural and a finish material, not hidden and clad in another material.”
The concrete on the home’s exterior has a rough texture that resists signs of weather damage, while interior walls wear a smooth finish. Some interior spaces, like the living room, have floors and ceilings sheathed in red oak.
To screen the interior from flanking neighbors and provide wind and storm protection, the architects devised a singular solution – pierced metal screens – which allow sunlight to flood in from the east and west while delivering privacy and shelter to the home’s large windows.
The screens perform another service. Throughout the day, they cast ever-changing patterns of light onto interior walls, floors and ceilings, giving the rooms a unique and beautiful decorative complexity.
The main living area, a 500-square-foot space incorporating a dining area and kitchen, is squarely oriented towards the beach. It opens to a wide deck that becomes a continuation of the interior with sliding doors that make the walls disappear.
A custom trellis with a retractable awning acts as an extension of the ceiling plane. At the edge of the deck – beyond an outdoor kitchen, grill, dining and lounging space – is a long and narrow swimming pool, its color echoing the hues of the expansive sky and ocean.
“The shape and size of the pool are those of the glass on that elevation,” the architect explains.
A dramatic, two-story stair hall occupies the center of the house, with the large living room on one side and a family room and guest suite on the other.
The second-floor family bedrooms include a master suite, which features a sitting room and sybaritic bath, and three additional bedrooms on the other side of the central hall.
Hidden on the second story is one of this home’s unique features – a garden composed of limestone pavers interspersed with sedums and other hardy species. “It’s a green roof, open to the sky,” Plumb says. “In a house where all the other spaces are geared towards the ocean view, it’s an intimate, contemplative place.”
The home’s thoughtful and compelling design has paid off, not just in terms of garnered awards and family happiness.
Just after the house was completed, Hurricane Sandy roared up the East Coast. Although the surrounding area saw a great deal of damage, this house performed beautifully, weathering the monster storm with nary a scratch. aamodtplumb.com
Image Credits: Photo by Arch Photo, Inc. .