The house is sited behind the sand dunes of a coastal barrier island with panoramic views of the beach, adjacent islands, and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Designed for an extended, hard-working family from the American middle-west, the house serves as a venue for rejuvenation, exposure to nature, and entertaining.
Attached to a central living pavilion for the owners is a discrete garage, a guest wing with bedrooms for visitors, a terrace with pools, and a boardwalk connection to the beach.
The design seeks to intensify the human experience of nature. The site offers dramatic, panoramic vistas over a vast expanse of dunes and beaches,
but the ocean is distant.There is a desire to bring the sensations of the sea in close to the inhabitants. Thus, waters of the pool interlace with
architecture to bring reflections of the ocean and the sky into the very heart of the house. Being within this house or on its terraces is to feel
a sense of hovering between water and sky.
The main living level consists of a series of open platforms stepping down toward the ocean. Highest of these is the central dining area, the vertical spatial core of the house, with its open clerestory above. From the dining level one steps down into a more intimate living/seating area, then down again to a lower gallery which leads to the outdoor terrace and pool which is, itself, floating above the surrounding dunes.
Throwing open an entire wall of folding glass doors, the kitchen suddenly becomes an extension of the screened porch, exposed to breezes, smells, and sounds of the ocean.
Knitting together these varied living spaces is a high colonnaded gallery which marches through the structure from entrance to terrace and pool, which leads in turn to a floating boardwalk connecting through the dunes to the beach. Bathed in reflected sunlight as it runs alongside the gallery, is an airy stair, crafted of steel and glass, suspended over the pool. One “walks over water” climbing up to bedrooms on the second floor. The fragmental, porous quality of the stair assembly modulates the reflected rays of sunlight from the pool, thus intermediating relationships between inside and outside, upstairs and downstairs, water and sky.
Seen from the southern side--the ocean side--the house arises from the dunes as a robust pavilion providing a sturdy sense of human refuge, yet simultaneously opening itself to infinite phenomena of nature.