Bernheimer Architecture

University Campus Plaza . Okayama

Bernheimer Architecture . photos: © Jeremy Bittermann . + architect

A weekend retreat for a family in coastal Rhode Island, Quonochontaug House is organized around an open-plan ground floor punctuated by a series of double-height skylit spaces that progress from entry to bay view. The skylight volumes, which alternate around an east-west axis defined by the pool terrace (to the east) and the ocean (to the west), taper at their apex to the dimension of standard skylights, which provide shifting and ephemeral natural light patterns throughout the day, varying across seasons and changes in the sky and weather.

The largest of the volumes, situated over the kitchen and the living room, is provided with two skylights, producing diverging pyramidal forms that add to the unexpected quality of light. The outdoor deck on the water-facing side of the house contains its own double-height space that is open to the sky.
The second floor is supported, volumetrically, by a cluster of plywood-clad shapes on the first floor containing building services. The second floor is a simple series of bedrooms distributed around the skylight volumes which extend upwards from the first floor.The master bedroom is surrounded by windows on three sides, with an expansive view of the water.
The exterior of the house is clad in Shou Sugi Ban, custom-milled slats of cypress which have been charred and oiled. These slats, which require virtually no maintenance over their lifespan, create a stark contrast to the light-bathed interior of the house. And, the deep shape of the slats contributes to a shimmering dematerialization of the edifice’s corners. The entire composition of house and garage blends into the site through the expansion of an existing informal English garden complemented by native coastal plantings.

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