Minimalist Long Island Beach House by John Pawson
Architecture & Interiors
British architect John Pawson, one of the major proponents of architecture’s minimalist movement, has designed a beach house in Montauk, New York that proves minimalism and beach house comfort are not diametrically opposing esthetics, after all. Montauk House, on the eastern tip of Long Island, pointedly eschews the region’s famous cedar shingle architectural vernacular in favor of a low-profile horizontal edifice, defined by the geometric forms and dearth of ornamentation for which Pawson is best known.
Montauk House is also distinguished by its exterior cladding, a stucco-like material known as render, that echoes the color palette of the sandy Atlantic Ocean beach visible from the house’s lower decking—a shift away from the silvery, weathered cedar exteriors ubiquitous in the Hamptons and beyond. Pawson himself describes his material choice as one that “reinforces the intimacy of the relationship between architecture and context, with walls finished in sandy render and decks made from silvered ipe, resembling driftwood.”
The house’s appropriately simple decking, comprised of hard-as-nails Brazilian ipe wood, foregoes the traditional beach house front porch for a low, angled platform, devoid of railings. Segueing almost seamlessly into the sandy oceanfront property, it affords wide-open, unobstructed views of the Atlantic.
In true Pawson fashion, a series of austere vertical volumes on Montauk House’s flat roof rise skyward, high above the dunes below, like earthy Donald Judd sculptures—providing horizontal vistas of ocean and sky between their vertical forms, replicating the sumptuous views framed by windows inside the house.