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Geometric Dissonance

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Featured Company: Maziar Behrooz Architecture - Location: Wainscott, New York - Project Type: Residence - Project Name: Sayres House & Hanging Garden

Photo by Matthew Carbone,

By Emma Janzen

Situated on a three-acre site at the edge of a farm in Long Island, Maziar Behrooz Architecture’s expansion of the Sayres House & Hanging Garden defies convention. After hiring Behrooz for the project, the clients asked for larger bedrooms, a library for a large book collection, space to display fine art, a guest cottage, and a pool that would fit the existing aesthetic of the home. What they received was a wildly geometric design that favors interrupted movement. Behrooz explains how the design unfolded and highlights some of the choices below.

The new addition is an angular departure from the existing structure. How did this decision materialize in the planning stages?

In our first design meeting, we showed a plan that mimicked the existing house’s shape and materials. We discussed this at length. It was what the clients had envisioned. At the end of the meeting, almost on the way out, we brought out a very rough study model with no 90-degree angles. The angularity of the addition sat in strong contrast to the shaker-like geometry of the existing house. We could tell without speaking that our clients fell in love with this.

How do the contrasting styles work together?

The plan of the extension consists of two floor plates that crisscross one another as they meander into the landscape, guided by one’s movement towards the vistas and light. Against the backdrop of a rigorously geometric existing house, our addition hops and leaps, dancing around it. The irregular forms yielded pockets of space, niches and alcoves that, once realized and furnished, offered a surprising sense of calm and reverence. Within their spaces, one wants to be still.

In what ways does the house work with the surrounding landscape?

Multiple flat roofs at different heights are covered with low-maintenance sedum to help reduce water runoff (a problem in the area) and give both the impression and reality of a terraced garden. On the second floor, the roof gardens blanket the adjacent roof surfaces and create a green foreground to distant farm views. Excess rainwater is funneled into steel gutters that are designed to double-function as horizontal planters.

We were happy that this feature not only helps us reduce the impact of the building on the aquifer directly below but also that it created a grounding experience.

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