East Hampton, New York
This residence is primarily used when the clients’ extended family comes from England for long visits. They come to relax and to reconnect with their family and with nature, away from city crowds and traffic, at a retreat they neither want nor need to leave for a month. The design objective was to make every day of that month unique by providing a range of destinations within the site with diverse scales, functions, and views: from gathering in the expansive living room overlooking the fields of the former peach orchard to reading alone on a shaded bench between the library and the edge of the forest. Multiple paths and hallways connect each destination, further increasing variety. Finally, each detail and custom furnishing is designed to make mundane rituals into thoughtful events.
For example, in the kitchen, rolling cutting boards ride in tracks down the long island, turning meal preparation into an assembly line for everyone’s participation. Those not cooking can make a selection from the wine room where the bottles cast a pattern of shadows through a glazed wall into the main entrance. The dining table can be configured for the evening: stainless steel tubes running the length of the table can be rotated to reveal candleholders, flower vase holders, or flat surfaces for hot dishes. At other times, the tubes can be removed and the trough filled with ice for chilling drinks. For a change of pace, there is dining on the roof deck at sunset, barbequing on the terrace, lunch in the shade of the pool house canopy, or breakfast in the screened porch. Each space is unique, making each meal special.
Even the morning routine becomes an event. In the kids’ rooms, a ribbon of stone traces their morning ritual. Starting as a nightstand by the bed, it becomes a bench for their pile of clothes, a desk for checking their email, a sink in the bathroom, and, finally, the shower floor. In the parents’ master closet, hidden steel hooks pivot up from the mahogany bench to hang the day’s outfit choices.
The clients wanted this to be a gathering place for their family, full of memories for generations to come. Thus the materials were chosen not only for durability but also for their gradual changes over many years. The copper siding and roofing will slowly turn green as the weathering limestone becomes darker. However, the window system will stand the test of time unchanged. An English company has manufactured the same industrial steel windows for over 150 years and many early examples are still in tact. A geothermal heating and cooling system, green roofs, organic finishes, and triple glazed windows will minimize the structure’s environmental impact over the generations.
The clients look forward to many tranquil summers together with their family in the house.