Lighthouse Keepers Residence

Island Beach State Park, New Jersey

This project is the result of a year long thesis study. The idea for this small house is to form a dialogue with the landscape through an architecture of walls and volumes. The building “fixes” itself to the site by the spatial orientation of solid & void and the phenomena of light and shadow.

A long narrow barrier island lies off the coast of New Jersey. The site exists at the southern end where an inlet conjoins the Atlantic ocean with the Barnegat Bay. A lighthouse stands at the opposing south shore. The eighteen mile long state park maintains the indigenous landscape of rolling dunes, thick patches of green grasses and tall golden reeds. The ocean lies to the east.

Long poured concrete retaining walls hold back the sand and contain the house composed of twelve fourteen foot cubes. A long entry ramp, perpendicular to the ocean. A cubic void in the house frames a view of the ocean beyond as one descend. Beyond the entry an open submerged courtyard reclaims the sky. The grassy landscape falls into this space.

The house is organized on three levels. The submerged level contains the most intimate spaces. The entry opens into the parlor with an inglenook fireplace and hides the library and study behind. The stairs are placed between a tall retaining wall and the house volume. The interior of the tall western wall is plastered white to reflect the ocean. A continuous glowing band of glass block perimeters this space. The ground level of the house embraces the landscape. A large eastern facing window gathers the sand, sea, and sky. This window is positioned in the center of the 2-story living/dining room with adjoining kitchen. The cubic terrace looks to the east and west horizons. A bridge running through the 2-story living/dining room connects the two ends of the upper level. The bedroom looks south to the nearby Barneget lighthouse. The bathroom is across the bridge at the north end. The roof deck is accessed from the bedroom by a ladder and provided views of the continuous horizon.