residential single-family house in Southampton, New York, by OBRA Architects
1 | 2 | 3 | 4
back Back

VILLA OF THE EXCLUDED MIDDLE

Southampton, New York
DECEMBER 2002

Down
Set atop a hill on a five-acre site overlooking a farming reserve near the Atlantic coast of Long Island, this house will be used as a weekend retreat for a busy New York City family. Designed around two absences, one concrete and the other conceptual, the house is made up of two halves flanking a central court which is created as if cut by extraction, allowing the landscape to run through and defining an exclusion of form and defined use. The notion of absence, as if contradicting the Law of the Excluded Middle, also known as the Law of not-neither, characterizes the space with a conspicuous ambiguity, belonging not entirely to the inside nor to the outside, allowing it to become part of the house and, at the same time, remain as yet another instance in a landscape defined as a series of distinctive exterior areas which can be accessed and inhabited. These areas include an orchard, a pool area, tennis field, and a pond.

The house is divided in two halves: one contains living spaces, kitchen, bedrooms, and the other a playroom, a guest apartment, a garage and a covered porch. The two halves are connected by an underground passage which also serves as a wine storage cave.

To preserve a character of austere simplicity, the exterior walls offer an introspective arrangement of window openings on solid walls, while the "cut" surfaces facing the central court are liberally glazed to allow free passage from indoor to outdoor and to allow vast diagonal panoramas of the park and the farming reserve visible from the house interior. To relive the flatness of the "cut" facades, oversized curved doors sculpt the light into surfaces of chiaroscuro and swing to become adjustable light reflectors and buffers.