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the cocoon 
Long Island, NY  2019

This Gold-LEED home, selected for Domus Best Houses, awarded for AIA Long Island as honorable recognition in Residential Sustainable Design, and nominated for Frame House of the Year Award, is called Cocoon because its round walls form a Cocoon shape towards its northern and western neighbors. This rounded enclosed half of the house provides shelter and privacy. The other glass side of the house, facing south, takes in ocean breezes and open views. The cedar shingle cladding blends in with the historic neighborhood and benefits from local craft traditions. By tuning in to given site conditions, and with the help of environmental technologies such as photovoltaic panels and reflecting rainwater cistern, architectural design serves both the environment and wellbeing.


It is shaped by the legal restriction to build keeping distance from the wetlands. Luckily, the view of the greenery towards the ocean faces south and east, so that the southern glass façade provides both views and passive heating gain. The thermal masses of the thick northern/western walls, supported entirely by timber structure, keep away humidity and retain heat while providing privacy. The large unbroken sliding doors connect inhabitants with the smells, feel and sounds of the garden and ocean in the distance. In a structure that partakes in the natural landscape, a comfortable temperature is primarily achieved through passive strategies.

Experience of the sun in a structure that is half opaque and half exposed guides the framework of the design. In the half of the cottage that is crystalline and transparent, sunlight filters through the translucent colored skylights, reflects off of the water cistern and enters through the glass facades. The translucent colored skylights located above the hallway are based on Goethe’s color theory, used by J.M. William Turner in his sunlight paintings above water. The colors range from vermilion red, which signals sunset and rest, above the master bedroom, to deep yellow, which signals zenith and activity, nearest the living room. The changing daylight on the round projection screen connects to solar rhythms throughout the day, directing attention to biorhythms in the passing of seasonal and diurnal cycles, marking hours through slowly moving light patches.