The East Lake House is located in Montauk, a village at the eastern tip of New York's Long Island. Robert Young Architects, which has offices in Manhattan and the nearby town of Bridgehampton, was commissioned to design a residence that capitalised on the natural setting.
The clients had purchased two adjoining lots that were sold as one parcel, which is a rarity in the area. The property overlooks Lake Montauk, an embayment that connects to Block Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
Rather than plunk down an oversized house in the middle of the property, the team created two dwellings that are situated on the edge. One serves as the main home, and the other encompasses guest quarters and a garage/boathouse.
"This leaves space in the centre of the property, creating an unobtrusive scale and an overall feel that Young calls 'the opposite of a mansion'," the studio wrote in a project description.
In addition to its unassuming character, the home is meant to embody a harmonious interplay between architecture and its surroundings. "An intrinsic connection to, and respect for, nature defines this weekend residence at every glance," the studio said.
The residence was oriented in a way that maximises views and captures breezes. The front elevations, which face a road, are relatively opaque, while the rear facades have large expanses of glass, offering generous views of the water.
"Lake Montauk is the main event, but not the only one," the team said. "Secondary, more sheltered spaces offer cosy contrast to the wide-open water views."
The team selected materials with an eye toward how they will weather over time. Exterior walls are wrapped in untreated, rough-sawn cedar planks that will take on the silvery hue of driftwood. The gabled roofs, sheathed in raw zinc, will develop a mottled patina. Even the hardware is meant to show its age.
"Solid bronze hardware will stand up to the marine environment with little care and will become more beautiful with time and use," the team said.
Inside, light-toned finishes are paired with dark elements in order to create an atmosphere that feels "serene and active". The home's steel structural frame was left visible, as were ceiling beams, which were painted white. Rooms are fitted with white oak flooring and contemporary decor, along with special accents such as handmade Moroccan tiles.
Outside, the central portion of the property has a swimming pool and cabana, which are surrounded by grass. On the narrow strip of land between the main home and the water, the team added indigenous plants rather than a lawn.
The architect explained: "It was like we made a bargain with nature, saying, 'We need to build this house as close to the shore as we are able to, but we will help nature reestablish itself so it will eventually grow back to its native state, right up to the terrace."
Known for its white-sand beaches and charming cottages, Montauk is a popular vacation spot for New Yorkers. Other dwellings in the area include the Surf House by T W Ryan, which features a black exterior and pale interiors.
Photography is by Michael Moran.
Architect: Robert Young Architects
Team: Robert Young, principal in charge; Justin Blejer and John Buckley, project architects; Satoi Akimoto, Viktoria Rauter, Robert Deacon
Interior design: Sophie Girard