Water Mill, New York
The clients’ renovation of a 1970s-era house and their desire for a larger pool and accompanying amenities led to a complete reorganization of the landscape on this oceanfront property. The usual practice of locating a swimming pool between a house and the beach so that the swimmers enjoy a water view was not possible, even though the original pool had been sited that way. Over time, an increase in the dune backing the beach had blocked the view from the site. More importantly, FEMA and local building department restrictions prohibited expanding the footprint of the pool on the original site.
The solution was to move the pool to the back of the house, locating it in what had been the parking area. In this setting, the pool could be larger, and raising it eight feet created an ocean view through the trees. In addition, the new site was more sheltered from on-shore winds, providing a welcome and peaceful retreat for those who had spent the day amid the crashing surf and gusty conditions of the beach.
The clients opted for a Japanese-inspired aesthetic, reflected in the hardscape and landscape improvements that were developed as a simplified, modern interpretation of classical Japanese landscape design.
In the new configuration of the property, the road along which the approach is made is hidden by plantings of native vegetation. The arrival sequence proceeds from the end of the driveway into a carport, from which visitors ascend to an entry court dominated by a six-foot-high wall over which flows a sheet of water; this is the outside of the elevated pool, but the pool itself is invisible. A second staircase, a series of three rises and a landing, leads to the house, through a grove of crape myrtle trees. A turn to the right around a planter puts visitors in the pool terrace; framed in French limestone, this provides a view of the ocean.
On the ocean side of the house, twelve feet of sand were added both to reinforce the dune and to make the house feel more connected to the landscape and beach. A sculpture by Bernar Venet of weathered steel set into the top of the replenished dune helps to focus and frame the ocean views. Planters were installed to modulate the transition from architecture to planting. An oceanside seating area has a view of a meadow of beach grass rather than the beach. The sound of the surf, however, furnishes a soothing background to this serene spot.