- by REX
A patriarch dreams of building a family residence—“a jewel box for individual lifestyles”—in which he, his wife, his four children, and each of their four families will reside. Three of the children are currently too young to have families of their own, or to define their future needs and desires. A building concept is therefore required that can accommodate families who do and do not yet exist. The patriarch’s other major wishes are that the ensemble of five homes have the architectural integrity of a single building, that the building look as though it has always been part of the site, and that it incorporate a ceremonial stair.
To create a structure where each home …is organized into a necklace… can be experienced autonomously and as a component of a larger domestic network, the residence’s program…is organized into a necklace…
…whose gems consist of the five homes and three shared pavilions: an event space (with adjacent outdoor swimming pool), an entertainment space (including bar, billiards, library, and study), and a children’s play area. A second tier beneath the main level includes a garage, a gym, a home cinema, an indoor swimming pool, a staff area, a spa, and a wine cellar.
The extraordinary site commands views out to the Long Island Sound from a high bluff on one side, and into a dense, old-growth forest on the other. Straddling the line between these radically different landscapes, the necklace achieves a residential Holy Grail, existing simultaneously at the beach and in the woods. Each of the five homes is thereby afforded different site experiences: ocean, forest, or half-and-half.
While the ocean-side of the residence is on grade, its forest side extends horizontally into the tree canopy due to the site’s steep drop-off, creating a tree-house experience for its residents.
To address the possible needs and proclivities of families who do not yet exist, each of the five homes embraces a distinct living typology: pinwheel house, checkerboard house, stripe house, barcode house, and dice house (all based on archetypal American houses.)
Should the four children and their families live permanently at the residence, this palette of homes will provide them options that can accommodate their lifestyle preferences. Should they only make frequent visits to the residence, they can enjoy different architectural and site experiences upon each stay.
The residence’s exterior is wrapped in mirror glass such that upon approach, the building disappears into the site. The effect reduces the perception of the structure’s large mass, and by looking like it is not there at all, actually achieves the patriarch’s desire for a structure that “looks as if it has always been part of the site.”
Driving under the residence’s elevated components, one enters the courtyard: a secret garden surrounded by a ring of clear glass with a circular walkway behind, which ties this three-generational-family campus together visually.
Overlooking the courtyard garden, the circular walkway is the physical connector for all the residence’s gems. It is lined by a simple cherrywood wall that morphs into functional yet playful, ribbon-like objects— as if sculpted or rolled by hand—within the three pavilions.
The wood wall is divided into full-height, pivoting panels that can open each home up, or close them off, when families want to engage each other,…or want privacy.
The Necklace Residence is the realization of the patriarch’s dream: a family haven, whose horizontality, reflectivity, and transparency integrate it ‘naturally’ into the landscape, and exalt the duality of its majestic site.
architect: REX | team: Giannantonio Bongiorno, Tim Burwell, Alberto Cumerlato, Mahasti Fakourbayat, Mette Fast, Alysen Hiller, Tyler Hopf, Gabriel Jewell-Vitale, Min Kim, Dominyka Mineikyte, Elizabeth Nichols, Joshua Prince-Ramus, Raul Rodriguez, Emma Silverblatt, Aude Soffer, Minyoung Song, Elina Spruza, Michele Tonizzo, Cristina Webb, Vaidotas Vaiciulis, Michael Volk | collaborator: AVGA | client: Private | status: Competition (2013) Project (2015) Construction (2015 - 2018) | clasification: 1 rang | location: New York, United States (40.743837, -72.961711) | climate: Continental, Temperate | materials: concrete, glass, wood | environments: Seaside, Urbanization | consultant: ACS, ASW, CSI, Front, Kean Development, Knippers Helbig, SMD, Tillotson Design | visualizer: Studio | scale: 3.500 m2 medium | types: house, residential | views: 3.845