Stunning Family Retreat in New York: Water Mill Houses

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 Water Mill Houses is a family retreat comprised of a main house, pool house, guesthouse, bunkhouse, and garage, designed by 1100 Architect, located in Water Mill, New York. The compound is distributed across fifteen acres of wooded land with the main, or “glass,” house standing on the highest peak of the property, allowing for an unobstructed view of the surrounding landscape and shoreline from the roof terrace. It functions as a sophisticated tree house, with a shielded bottom floor for sleeping and an open, transparent second floor for living. Set in separate corners of the property, both the glass-walled guesthouse and the pool house echo the main house’s underlying principle: open to light, hidden by trees. The bunkhouse, the latest addition to the complex, is a multi-use space that acts as a study and fitness area, as well as a second guesthouse.

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Main House
The living spaces on the top floor are enclosed by glass walls that enable light and air to penetrate while a screen of trees provides privacy. In contrast, the facade of the first floor, which contains the more private spaces of the house, filters light and views through heavyweight fiberglass-screened panels.

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The glass-plank floor of the internal court on the third floor doubles as a skylight for the space below.

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Pool House
Rugged materials – cast concrete and steel – are combined with teak planks and insect screening (for a sun shade canopy) to create a durable yet warm family environment.

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The guesthouse in this residential compound was designed on the premise that well-detailed architecture can be created from the thoughtful use of off-the-shelf building products. Here, a basic aluminum storefront system was deployed to achieve a work of sublime simplicity and elegance at low cost.

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As a couple became a family of four, the owners found that the original guesthouse with only a single bedroom could not accommodate their growing number of visitors. The bunkhouse, as its name indicates, is primarily a place for guests to bunk, or sleep. The house consists of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a kitchen – the forest and nearby pool act as its living room.

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A straightforward material palette of poured concrete, glass and wood was employed, creating continuity between the bunkhouse and the rest of the complex.

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The bunkhouse echoes the landscape in its horizontality and respects it in its subtle form and placement. The bottom of its two stories is partially submerged in the sloping, forested terrain while the cantilevered upper story appears to be floating amidst the surrounding flora.

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Photos: Peter Aaron / OTTO

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