47.0

2011-2015 / Walnut, tarnished silver leaf cedar, silver leaf cedar, zinc, sand cast glass, fabric cast foam with Venetian plaster, glass, steel, concrete

The project began with a classic 1950 modernist house on a granite quarry site on Long Island Sound, in the heart of New England.  Eighty years have passed since it was a working quarry, and nature has softened the otherwise architectural outlines and edges left over from primary industry.  The existing house is on a small promontory with a 180 degree sea view, a little beach, and a gorgeous granite ledge graced with a colony of rare wet weather flowering native cacti.  

The entire quarry was originally developed in 1950 as a modernist subdivision project by architect Carleton Granberry, who was also commissioned by a noteworthy architectural historian to design and build a charming but now dilapidated house on this specific site. In 2011, OAO was commissioned to repair and renovate the house such that a new intervention might enter into dialogue with the classic modernist paradigm of 1950’s New England, creating a hybrid whole.  The aspiration is that our architecture, focused on rich material exploration and a profound relationship with the site, (…and embracing of decorative elements), might activate the crisp, pure, and spare modernist vision of the original.  The point of departure for our project is twofold.  

On the one hand, we needed to resolve an awkward relationship between a dead, so called sun-room, an uncomfortable kitchen, a cramped dining room and an ambiguous living room.   In addition, we had to accommodate the needs of the current owners, who are both academics, and who need dedicated, inspired, private workspace for study and writing.

When analyzing the existing house, we found that its architecture responds very well to the far vista of its site, but virtually ignores the wonderful foreground and detail scale of its surroundings.  Our second intent became to give particular spaces in the house an intense relationship with the close foreground.  If we can be successful at this, then the 1950’s focus on the far vista becomes balanced, grounded, and humane.

Various synergies with our manufacturing company are proposed on the detail scale including a sculptural fabric formed foam and wood hybrid roof and sand cast glass clerestory.