With a deceptively modest face to the world, the Cocoon House features soaring ceilings, an airy and open atmosphere and spectacular light play throughout. Located in Long Island, New York, the house was designed by nea studio founder Nina Edwards Anker. The residence makes the most of its location while creating a private and environmentally minded home for the residents.
The name of the LEED-certified home comes from its shape, which features rounded walls that face neighboring homes to the north and west and provide a high level of privacy for the occupants. On the other side of the house, however, a glass facade faces south, which allows in in ocean breezes and provides sweeping views. With an unconventional shape, you might think that it would not fit in with the local architecture, but the masterful design clad the house in cedar shingles that naturally blend in with the materials used throughout the historic neighborhood. It also and leverages environmental technologies including photovoltaic panels to lessen environmental impact and enhance the lives of the homeowners.
Interestingly, the design was actually driven by unique site conditions. Built in an L-shape, the home has a footprint of a mere 1730 square feet, partly due to legal requirements to be 150 feet from radius any wetlands and at least 35 feet from adjacent properties. The two wings of the house are 16 feet high and open onto an undisturbed landscape that face the ocean to the south and east. This also allows the glass façade to provide a passive heating gain. Moreover, the thermal mass of the thick walls on the opposite side, which are supported by a timber structure, help mitigate humidity and retain heat. Simple and natural landscaping across the full property minimizes upkeep as well.
The large glass facade is actually composed of sliding doors that open to fully connect with the outdoor garden and ocean beyond. This is one of the passive features that takes advantage of the natural landscape to maintain a comfortable temperature in the house. When open, the sliding doors bring in the southern breeze from the Atlantic Ocean, helping to ease the summer heat. In addition, the use of interior shades cuts about 50 percent of solar heating. Conversely, during the wintertime, the glass facade pulls heat from the sun to help keep the interiors toasty warm.
Minimalist decor emphasizes the serenity and airiness of the space while a neutral color palette keeps the interior from competing with the landscape. Moreover, sightlines are clear throughout the space, ensuring the focus is on the views and natural elements outdoors.
The open plan living space includes a sleek hidden kitchen where all the major elements are mainly disguised behind cabinetry that is free of any visible hardware. the white color and low profile means that it blends seamlessly with the walls and creates an unbroken visual.
Because the back of the house is clad in glass, the designer added translucent colored skylights that allows sunlight to filter through and cast colorful, shifting shadows everywhere. The light also reflects off the reflecting pools and comes back up through the facade. According to Edwards Anker, the colorful skylights lining the bedroom hallway are based on Goethe’s color theory, which was later used by the 19th century painter J.M. William Turner in his works depicting sunlight above water.
All along the bedroom wing of the house, the colors change from vermilion red above the master bedroom, meant to evoke sunset and rest, to deep yellow, which conveys zest and activity and is installed closest to the living room. The all-white palette is the perfect canvas for the geometric shadows of colored light that reflect across the interiors. This is made more dramatic by the fact that the street-facing side of the home only has a few small windows. As the daylight changes during the day, it creates a solar rhythm that marks the hours and seasons for the residents in the home. Edwards Anker intended for the shifting colors and patterns to be like a cinematic screen, with the lights and shadows moving across the rounded back wall.
The master bedroom is located at the end of the bedroom wing and features a spectacular view across the backyard through the large, curved window. To the left, the colors skylights are visible as are the geometric shadows they cast across the bed. With the unusual shape of the room and window, the decor is clean and minimal to focus attention on the view.
The bedroom is linked to the bathroom behind it by a triangular bathtub surround that also looks out the window to the outdoors. Glass doors behind the tub close it off from the rest of the bathroom. A design like this makes the most of views, which the homeowners can enjoy from the bed or the tub. Here too, a largely white and neutral color palette keeps the space feeling quite Zen-like.
Even the bathroom is enhanced by the colorful shadows that play across the floor from the skylights. This shower area connects with the outside through a sliding door, which means that it’s possible to go directly into the shower and contain sand and any mess to this easily cleaned area. When there is an ocean nearby — especially with children in the house — this kind of design is a godsend.
The location of the bedroom also creates a private sanctuary in the evening, where those who are relaxing inside can enjoy the reflection from the pool as well as the calming serenity of space.
The colored skylights are visible from the outdoors and this view shows how the pool encircles the bedroom wing of the home. At the opposite end where the living space is, a tile patio provides outdoor space for dining or entertaining.
Also in the bedroom wing, two additional sleeping spaces have room for a bed, enclosed storage and a ladder to the loft space between the two rooms. The colors used for bedding echo the hues found in the skylights, typing the entire color scheme together.