Drive down most streets in Montauk–the coastal hamlet in the southern tip of Long Island–and you will discover simple fishermen’s cottages alternating with intricate structures that function as second homes for New York’s upper crust. New home by Robert Young Architects is situated on one such street, but its layout deftly straddles a delicate balance between achieving a discreet presence and undeniable grandeur.
Young, who has offices in New York and Bridgehampton, also on Long Island’s East End, helped locate the two-acre property along Lake Montauk, whose calm waters are a far cry from the mighty sea waves for which surfers flock to Montauk. The site was formerly home to a small, poorly constructed split-level, and sits with a small residence. The customers–a Manhattan couple with two small kids– wanted the new home to stay unassuming.
To achieve this, despite requiring only over 10,000 square feet of program, Young created several different volumes–two connected ones who compose the main house and a third for guest quarters over a garage–forcing them to opposite edges of their property.
The barnlike structures represent “the archetypal suggestion of shelter,” according to Young, their gables visible on the interior, most radically in the vast area of the central living space, which divides 20 feet to its summit.
That long double-height volume also comprises the dining and kitchen area. A taller, two-story structure parallel to it comprises bedrooms and auxiliary spaces like the open laundry room and a tv room with built-in furniture which Young’s office designed.
The simplicity of these structures is matched with the substances that form them, ones who will patinate or become duller or more diverse with time. Vertical cedar planks clad the exterior walls, standing seam natural zinc that the roofs, and rough brick the chimneys (all interspersed with bronze hardware and light fixtures), providing the chemical a slightly industrial aesthetic while remaining highly contextual and proper from the salty air.
Other details of the design are expected to be improved with time also. The property, especially around the pool which divides the main building and guesthouse and the area between the main house’s large outdoor deck and the coast, is planted with native shrubs and grasses.
Indoors, Young maintains a muted palette but introduces many different textures, including rocky handmade Moroccan tiles and finishes of densely knotted wood. The exterior walls facing the street feature scant, small windows, but the elements of this compound with views throughout the property as well as the water are largely clad in high-performance glass (that captures solar gain). Though not designed to Passive House criteria, the buildings have incredibly energy-efficient envelopes, with 8-inch-thick structural insulated panels sandwiched between the zinc roofing as well as the exposed wood construction, and a continuous layer of 4-inch-thick mineral wool outside a layer of traditional batt insulation inside the walls. “It only makes sense for a home that’s not used that often in the winter to keep it tightly sealed as possible,” states Young.
Upon entering the main home, you’re immediately greeted with a panoramic view of the lake, a view that illuminates a number of the spaces inside the compound. Any house located here will compete with its spectacular setting. Young avoided that issue entirely by producing pure, timeless structures where one is in awe but at ease and entirely at home.