Northwest Harbor House by Bates Masi + Architects
Straddling freshwater wetlands and a tidal estuary just six feet above sea level, this house’s site demands extraordinary sensitivity to environmental concerns. Local zoning restricts the structure’s maximum coverage and proximity to wetlands areas, while FEMA requirements set the first floor structure above the base flood elevation. The house’s basic massing is therefore predetermined, limited to a one story, 1,900 square foot design, raised eight feet above the ground. The spaces within this envelope are arranged, articulated, and fenestrated based on an innovative structural system that infuses the house’s inner areas with light and circulating air.
Without occupying any of the limited allowed coverage, these open areas add considerable value by improving the house’s interior environmental quality and diminishing its impact on the local environment. The benefit is threefold: each opening draws light though the interior spaces to the carport below, conducts rainwater from the roof deck to the ground via integral downspouts carved into the piles, and ventilates by siphoning air through the middle of the structure.
At the roof the projecting piles divide the space between a deck directly coinciding with the living areas below and a modular planting system installed above each bedroom to reduce runoff. The projecting piles also serve as supports for photovoltaics that power geothermal pumps, utilizing the abundance of high ground water to heat and cool the house. At the ground level, the space below the house is utilized for parking and storage to minimize the footprint on the site.
Northwest Harbor House, East Hampton, New York, by Bates Masi + Architects
66MRN-House by ONG&ONG
Just off Stevens Road is this Zen-inspired dwelling with strong architectural lines and shapes that are further accentuated by the materials used. Comprising two main volumes, the front block houses the social spots, such as the living and formal dining areas, whilst service functions are relegated to the back, along with the kitchen. Although visually similar, the blocks are distinguished by texture – the social activity block is clad in granite and the service block in fare-faced concrete.
The design brief called for all spaces on the ground floor to form a cohesive whole so that when all doors are open on the ground floor, the individual spaces merge into a one – starting from the lap pool and garden at the entrance, to the living room in the front block and all the way to the kitchen in the rear block. A reflective pool divides the two main blocks and sits at the base of a sheer three-storey-high void that reaches the roof. This void forms the home’s visual and spatial centre and also works as a means of drawing up hot air so that the cooler air can rush in to keep temperatures low.
The master bedroom sits on the second floor of the main social volume, whilst the master bathroom as well as the children’s bedrooms are to the back. In the attic floor above is an additional bedroom and number of multipurpose spaces. Adjoining terraces and open decks lined in artificial grass make the rooftop an interesting space where lines between indoor and outdoor space are blurred.
With its natural textures and abundance of greenery, it is the adherence to minimalist design that forms the essence of this modern family home, thus providing its inhabitants with a relaxing, spacious abode to return to at the end of the day.
66MRN-House, Singapore, by ONG&ONG
Photography by Derek Swalwell