Reflective Glass House Becomes One With Nature
The Shokan House is located in New York, in a beautiful remote area surrounded by vegetation and wildlife. It was completed n 2015 and the architect in charge was Jay Bargmann of Rafael Vinoly Architects. The practice focuses on developing architectural ideas that are powerful, distinctive and specific to their context, being guided by the concept that architecture represents a dialogue with the forces of life.
Situated at the edge of the Ashokan reservoir, the house is surrounded by larke oak, fir and birch trees, the forest also providing shelter to hawks, foxes and bears. The gentle sloping site allows the residence to offer panoramic views beyond the reservoir and of the mountains in the distance.
The house measures a total of 6000 square feet and, being so large, a challenge appeared. The architect had to find a way to not overpower the natural beauty surrounding the house. The chosen method was a nontraditional approach and the preference for an industrial design.
The most important detail while allows the house to blend in is the fact that the reflective glass enclosure is bolted to the foundation and wraps around the entire residence. It’s made of T sections which double as the frame for the glass walls.
So the reflective glass lets the exterior of the house blend into the landscape harmoniously. But what about the interior design? The industrial style chosen for this project suits the house beautifully, offering it character and charm.
Steel, glass, concrete, ceramic and wood come together in a harmonious composition inside the house. They have been left unfinished in order to expose their true nature and to offer hints related to the house’s history and uniqueness.
The residence has two entrances, one to the east and one to the west. The entrance doors are integrated into the concrete foundation and lead into the ground floor which contains the vestibule, the garage and a bedroom.
From the vestibule one can access the living room, a steel-framed space with views across the treetops, capturing the image of the distant mountains and the forest. There are two fireplaces, one in the vestibule and one in the living room, both having the role of creating a warm and inviting ambiance.
The garage is a large concrete structure with huge doors and no pillar support. When the doors open the garage resembles a bridge, being almost completely exposed to the surroundings.
Concrete also plays an important role in the interior design of the social areas. In combination with the corrugated steel ceilings and the stainless steel surfaces, it emphasizes the industrial side of the décor.
The top floor houses the dining room kitchen, two bedrooms and the library. The living room is a double height space which can be accessed from the vestibule. The staircase which connects the spaces has a strong industrial appearance, being one continuous perforated tread with stainless steel tension cables forming the balustrade.
The two storeys of windows in the living room capture panoramic views of the surroundings, across the reservoir.
The kitchen, the library and the bedrooms are organized in separate volumes. The dining area features a large table custom made with a steel top. It can sit up to 14 people and is the center of attention in this space.
Behind the library is one of the bedrooms which is actually closer to being a multifunctional space. It has a Murphy bed and a simple and flexible design.
The master bedroom is placed at the back of the building for increased privacy. Connected to this room is a concrete terrace furnished with a large table and bench seats.
Below the master bedroom is the guest room, beautifully decorated using neutral elements and offering a pleasant and welcoming ambiance. The room has only one small window.
Although the interior design as a whole may not seem very complex in nature, everything is in there for a reason. The attention to detail features carefully placed furniture and accessories designed to complete the rooms, such as the Eames Lounge Chair which is an unmistakably elegant piece, creating the perfect reading corner.