Environmentally Friendly Home

This modern home seamlessly blends in with its coastal environment.
Wide Photograph of Modern House

Photographs by Michael Moran/otto

When a World-class sailing champion and his wife were ready to build a family getaway in Newport, RI, they immediately thought of New Canaan–based architect Amanda Martocchio, whose work they had admired on a house tour. “We loved how Amanda had opened up the existing traditional home with lots of glass to take advantage of its waterfront views—transforming it inside and out with modern elements balanced with warm materials,” they recall. “Additionally, we appreciated seeing the integration of environmentally friendly products and systems.”

Known for her commitment to environmental stewardship, Martocchio was eager to take up the challenge of designing this home that needed to not only respect the character of the historic district, but also comply with floodplain regulations. Protecting the birds was a must for the homeowners as the husband’s sister is an avid birder and naturalist. “When she heard we were building a modern home at this location, she insisted, ‘You’re going to install bird glass, right?,’” notes the wife. “She provided us with a link to the German–based manufacturer Ornilux, which produces a unique patterned glass application that can barely be detected by the human eye, but that is highly visible to birds. Ornilux had worked with our window manufacturer, Tischler, before, so both were excited for this first major residential installation.”

Front View of Luxurious House

Photographs by Michael Moran/Otto

Capturing the surrounding views was another key design directive from the homeowners. “Our first design principle for Amanda was, ‘It is all about the view,’” they note, “and she has accomplished this magnificently.” One-hundred-eighty–degree views of the ocean from the top floors are the result of the pinwheel massing. “We were enamored by the gently undulating edge of the cove’s shoreline. An extension of that curvilinear shape informed the design of the entry stair and landscape features that further tie the architecture to the site,” explains Martocchio.

Luxurious Game room

Photographs by Michael Moran/Otto

Although the home was designed primarily as a family home/retreat, the homeowners wanted to have plenty of sleeping space for the sailing crew, as well as informal spaces for end-of-race-day parties. “The upper level—where the kitchen, dining and living room areas are located—offers the best views and is where we all mostly congregate,” note the homeowners. “Our out-of-town sailing crew is able to stay with us during regattas; we’ve had up to 12 at one time. In a busy racing season, there could be four or five major events, each spanning anywhere from three to five sailing days, along with a few one- or two-day regattas.”

While furnishings are mainly a mix of midcentury family heirloom pieces, interior finishes use natural materials in thoughtful combinations and were inspired by the sailboat that the owner races, which is known for its beautifully engineered and finely crafted construction. “We combined the figural wide-plank hickory floors and textural stone walls with more streamlined surfaces of cement fiber board and white Corian,” Martocchio says. The finished home is a perfect fit for this sailing family and their crew.

The print version of this article appeared with the headline: A Natural Fit.