Other Participants: Caroline Edwards, Joy Wang, Aries Lang
Text description provided by the architects. Sitting on a scenic lot of about 1 acre in a wooded neighborhood outside NYC, this single-family house consists of 5500 SF of a primary living area, plus a fully finished basement and a three-car garage. The program consists of a large eat-in kitchen, formal dining and living rooms, a media room, a study, a large master suite, three children’s bedrooms, a family room, and a guest bedroom. The 3000 SF conditioned basement compliments the primary living spaces, incorporating an expansive children’s play area, a media center, and a small gym.
The house addresses the suburban setting in a thoughtful manner. The distinctive public facade is shaped by tightly configured circulation zones, which run parallel to the street and are defined by a series of planar façade manipulations. The street facade presents itself frontally to the street but addresses entry from the driveway with a dynamic canopy that provides shelter from the previously paved parking area.
While the entry façade is planar in nature, the rear façade is animated with a more dynamic relationship between indoor and outdoor living areas. This side of the house is defined by a double-volume transparent cube and several more solid volumes which provide a more ambiguous relationship between indoors and out. A free-standing outdoor dining pavilion further blurs this distinction.
The rear terrace extends the occupancy of the house beyond the home’s interior to the site at large. The property is unified from front to rear through a clearly defined axis that runs perpendicular to the entry façade and runs from the street to rear of the property, linking the house and its site from front to back. Just as the envelope of the house is expressed with great intention in order to unify the spatial sequences of indoors and outdoor spaces, the horizontal planes that define the roof and floors are purposefully punctuated with openings to unite the house from top to bottom.
The roofline of the entry sequence is separated slightly from the front façade, helping to modulate the front plane of the house with shadow and unexpected light, while a cutout in the roof-plane provides a glimpse of the sky above. Similarly, the interior open stair, which is capped by a large skylight, pierces the interior of the house with a three-story space that brings natural light into the center of the house. The dynamism of the stair is increased by the quality of light that changes over the course of the day and the year.
The complex spatial relationships between adjacent living areas are rendered in a more minimal architectural vocabulary and palette, expressed in stucco, wood screens & cladding, stainless steel rods, and window planes and cut-outs that define the volumes. Walnut floors and porcelain tiles in variations of grey define the ground planes. Natural light and shadow are purposefully manipulated with the large planar openings, while the exterior façade is dappled and softened by tree-filtered daylight.