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.

The Shokan House surrounded by forest
The Shokan House facade at night

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 Shokan House side view glass facade
The Shokan House reflective glass exterior

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 Shokan House seen from above

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.

The Shokan House concrete garage

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.

The Shokan House social area floor plan

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 Shokan House vestibule

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.

The Shokan House living room overall

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.

Two Eames Lounge chairs faced on fireplace

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.

Shokan house jay bargmann living room eames chairs
Shokan House with perforated steel stairs
Shokan House with perforated steel stairs closer look

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 Shokan House dining table for 14 people
The Shokan House kitchen and dining

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.

Shokan house Kitchen corner

The two storeys of windows in the living room capture panoramic views of the surroundings, across the reservoir.

The Shokan House view from top level

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.

The Shokan House dining table steel top
The Shokan House modern library desk
The Shokan House library interior design

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 Shokan House master bedroom

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.

The Shokan House murphy bed concealed
The Shokan House murphy bed folded down

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.

The Shokan House guest bedroom single 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.

Shokan house bathroom design