A BRIDGEHAMPTON STUNNER REINVENTS THE BEACH HOUSE CONCEPT BY BRINGING THE OUTDOORS TOPSIDE
BY DAVID PORTER
In “maggie and milly and molly and may,” ee cummings wrote, “it’s always ourselves we find in the sea,” and architect Viola Rouhani of Stelle Lomont Rouhani Architects, of Bridgehampton, NY, couldn’t agree more. “Going to the beach, for even a short while, has a way of reminding us of our place here on Earth,” she said.
Which brings us to this award winning home beside the dunes at Bridgehampton, named Ocean Deck House and just a few surfboard lengths from a white sand beach. The residence, which floats between sea and sky like a Cubist galleon, is a perfect and full throated expression of the concept of indoor outdoor living. Awards bestowed upon it include a Gardenista Outdoor Living Space Award (2018), an HC&G Kitchen Award (2016), and an Archi Award Winners Residential Commendation (2015). The general contractor was Fred G. Lappe of Southampton, with landscape architecture by Edmund Hollander of Hollander Design Landscape Architects.
Ms. Rouhani and her team, Luca Campaiola and Jessica Twiggs, were tasked with designing a multi-story indoor outdoor residence wherein occupants could cook and entertain on every level, thus Ocean Deck House’s extraordinary cantilevered decks and roof decks.
“Current FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] regulations require, as is the case here, that the first habitable level be out of harm’s way,” explained Rouhani. “So, our approach was to break down the volumes and make the lower level as transparent as possible to minimize the feeling of having a heavy structure plunked down on the beach. We came up with generous outdoor decks at each level, creating indoor outdoor living, even if elevated. And each outdoor deck has direct access to the ground space.”
The home provides distinct experiences on each of its three levels. The ground or “dune” level features a mixed wood and concrete patio with a pool and outdoor fireplace, and concrete and glass walls enclose an entry and storage space. There are neither bedrooms nor a kitchen here; the home’s utility for entertaining and outdoor lounge space increases as the building ascends.
“It’s designed as an ‘upsidedown’ house,” said Rouhani.
An exterior cantilevered stairway climbs from the ground floor to the second floor, arriving in a central, light filled atrium. This main floor is home to bedrooms and a spacious family room. From here, a second cantilevered stairway, parallel to the first, leads upward to a magnificent top level.
British novelist Lawrence Durrell wrote: “You rise each morning to a new day, a new world…a brilliant improvisation with full orchestra the light on the sea.” And there might not be a better place on the East Coast to rise each morning and view such an improvisation than the top floor, which comprises the dining, living, and kitchen areas, each open to the sea and sky. Its incomparable views reference the lido deck of a cruise ship, where one has the ocean and its wondrous music to oneself.
A notable design highlight is the outdoor kitchen “This ocean view space isn’t only intended for entertaining, but for producing serious food,” Rouhani said. “Special detail was given to the built in, wood fired grill, and a large cast in place concrete counter holds all the amenities and tools necessary, with appliances and a storage cabinet specifically geared for the outdoors.”
The dining table, which is also open to sky, can be shaded with bespoke and retractable sun sails; once the sun sets and the Atlantic mirrors the sky, globe string lights above create a festive, shipboard atmosphere.
“People come out here to enjoy what nature has to offer, and our goal is never to detract from the main attraction,” said Rouhani. “The house and its decks become unique platforms from which to enjoy the landscape. It’s a remarkable series of spaces.”
Stelle Lomont Rouhani Architects
48 Foster Avenue, Bridgehampton,
NY 631.537.0019 / stelleco.com