A custom-designed house for a hypothetical client explores the universal human desires for both orderliness and spontaneity, while firmly rooting itself to the landscape and creating privacy by shaping the terrain. The 4,500 square foot Sagaponac House was designed by TsAO & McKOWN Architects in Wainscott, New York.
The primary challenge was to design for the needs of a yet-to-be-determined client. Another significant issue was how to root the house to the earth; the nearly flat site in a young growth forest offered no footing. The architects responded by reshaping the topography, establishing the first level slightly below grade and sculpting the surrounding terrain into a gentle rise. In addition to anchoring the house, this also allowed the visible volume to be reduced, and enabled the creation of indoor/outdoor spaces that are at once secluded, yet very open to their surroundings.
The house functions (physically and psychically) on multiple levels – as much an intimate retreat for two (or one) as an accommodating host to an extended family (or numerous guests) – thus promoting multiple, overlapping narratives. Above: the public face, contained, controlled, consistent. Below: the private sphere: free-wheeling and spontaneous. The architects chose to embrace, rather than deny, this inherent ambivalence – a duality that they believed to be universal to the human condition.
Photos: Michael Moran & Bilyana Dimitrova