Montauk Residence, a new oceanfront house in Montauk, New York that capture the rarest of assets: large private outdoor space on the Atlantic Ocean.was designed by James Biber from Pentagram Architects.
Each house has its own identity, yet they share a vocabulary of materials, forms and intentions. The main house is earthbound: a low-slung single story composed of an open steel and glass wing and an embracing brick and wood one. Only the writing studio and outdoor fireplaces top the single story height.
The guesthouse, by contrast, is nearly entirely airborne, barely touching the ground and creating a series of covered spaces and processional gateways to the main house. Conceptually, the guesthouse is the second floor of the main house, dislocated to the entry side of the site where it participates in defining the large landscaped courtyard hovering 75 feet above the ocean.
Built for a couple, the main house is composed of a pair of opposing "L" shaped wings: "his" space is a steel and glass loft on the ocean and "her" space is a warm, enclosing set of brick and wood private rooms.
The materials—stone, terrazzo flooring, glazed brick walls, teak, stainless steel and terracotta—are the robust stuff suitable for both interiors and exteriors. The material palette binds the interior and exterior into a set of intimately connected spaces, erasing the boundary between inside and out.
James Biber has designed this home theater in Montauk New York, taking inspiration from Radio City Music Hall and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The home theater, which takes up 350 square feet in a 1,500-square-foot basement, had to have soundproofing and dimmable lights, and the client wanted seating on the floor.
The realization of such a remarkably transparent and open house, one that literally opens to the outside with enormous sliding glass walls, is quite a technical feat in an environment as harsh as the northern Atlantic shore. The radiant heated floors, geothermal wells, highly engineered glass and doors, along with fine construction tolerances contribute to the efficiency and comfort these houses offer in all seasons.
The inspiration for the house came from a trip to California to visit icons of mid-century architecture, everything from Irving Gill to Schindler to Neutra and Eames.
The house was always going to be modern and robust, but after the trip a common language developed, as well as a whole catalogue of comparisons—references could easily be made to the glass wall in that Neutra house or the roof overhang at that Schindler house—and it was agreed that a Case Study House should be built in New York.
The house has been designed to provide the couple, he is a film producer and she is a writer, each with a niche of their own: a writer’s studio was built on the roof of the main house and a home theater in the basement. The writer’s studio is reached via an outdoor staircase and is enclosed on three sides in glass. Framing the stunning ocean view is a horizontal window encased with steel. Floor tiles inspired by Gio Ponti enliven the space and offer a contrast to the view.
Although the couple enjoys having guests, they also value their privacy. The guesthouse, supported on steel beams the strength of which allows the house to appear light and airborne, is modeled on a motel with access to all rooms off a continuous balcony facing the courtyard. The louvered side of the house preserves the ocean views while concealing the neighbors “new shingle style” house immediately next door while allowing for air circulation.
Interiors of white linoleum, beach–ball colored wood walls and exposed concrete keep the sense of solidity without the luxuriousness of the main house materials. The partly shaded pool (in deference to the easily sun–burnt husband) and the raised cube of the hot tub offer ocean views without permanently dominating the center of the composition.