As far as the eye can see
Life in the small settlements along the Atlantic coast of Long Island is notably more relaxed than in the melting pot of the nearby big city: Countless parks and long beaches like white-sandy Jones Beach invite you to take it down a gear and let things run their course. Here, the maritime world is inspiring and made particularly picturesque by the changing moods of the light throughout the day. For decades now, nuclei of modern architecture have been sprouting up along the coast of Long Island. The challenge of incorporating the exciting interplay between land and sea is one Toshihiro Oki has also squared up to, and in doing so he has designed an airy holiday home made of glass and light-colored bricks from Petersen Tegl. Despite boasting a footprint that exceeds 450 square meters, the building at Bellport Bay slots so harmoniously into the countryside that it seems as if it was built using only the materials of its surroundings. The rectangular sections that make up the one-story building with its small glass superstructure are slightly offset from one another. They house five rooms to the left and right of a kitchen in the center. At the back of the house, the openings for the windows and doors are extremely narrow, while the water-struck D71 bricks courtesy of Petersen Tegl merge seamlessly with the sand-colored gravel that covers the ground. Visitors get a first glimpse of the glittering sea, however, thanks to glass double doors.
In contrast, the front of the house is opened up along its entire length: Any lines dividing the inside from the outdoors become fluid and the eye can gaze off into the distance. Each room has large, floor-to-ceiling windows on which the light is reflected and which offer a full view of the breadth of the ocean. This visual dynamism is continued in the bricks, which get their special color effect from coal firing. Yet it was not only for design reasons that the architect chose them: “Thanks to the production methods used at Petersen Tegl, the bricks are extremely resistant to the cold, wet winter’s weather on the Danish coast. These weather conditions are similar to those during winter on the Long Island coast, where frost is swiftly followed by thaw and vice versa. For this project, it was absolutely crucial that we found a suitable, long-lasting material that would maintain its natural expression in spite of the coastal climate and the saltiness of the air. The bricks also function as a thermal mass, which ensures the heating and cooling of the house is more efficient than it would be with another façade material,” explains Toshihiro Oki. When the sun goes down in the evening and the lights go on in “Bellport House”, the building is softly illuminated as if it had absorbed the sun’s rays during the day.