VON ERLACH HOUSE
SLADE ARCHITECTURE + MASS STUDIES
LOCATION / SHELTER ISLAND, NY
SIZE / 2,000 SF INTERIOR RENOVATION + ADDITION
1999 Progressive Architecture (P/A) Award
The Von Erlach family hired us to enlarge their summerhouse on Shelter Island, New York. They asked us to remove the kitchen and bathrooms from the existing house, returning house to its original 1860s condition. The addition would contain all the displaced service spaces as well as private master bedroom suite and public family space.
The split between public spaces and private spaces offered us the opportunity to explore different ideas of privacy and connection to the landscape. The house is a two-story box inflected to alternately emphasize and minimize the relationship between interior and exterior. Freestanding volumes, containing the powder room, the kitchen island and the bookshelf/wall, define the first floor, emphasizing the continuum of the ground plane between interior and exterior. The ground floor engages the backyard space and simultaneously blocks the neighbor’s direct view. Views are expansive and connected, linking the interior to the landscape.
In contrast, the second floor emphasizes the separation of the interior from exterior. We tightly packed the bathroom/service spaces between the master bedroom and the rest of the house, physically separating the two. Views out of the second story are tightly cropped to emphasize separation. The large window wall on the north side of bedroom faces the woods. The canopy of trees provides a green wall, for visual privacy, disconnected from the rest of the landscape. Additional openings crop designated views of the sky and ground. Further emphasizing the isolation of this room, the ceiling and walls are covered to erase the room’s edges, eliminating the perspectival references to scale and dimension.