The Northwest Harbor House in Sag Harbor, New York is built on a flood plain just six feet above sea level. At the meeting of a tidal estuary and freshwater wetlands, the home had some unique requirements and site specifications.
The home was designed and built by Bates Masi Architects. Per FEMA regulations, the first floor had to rise above the base flood elevation. Further zoning requirements restricted the home to a single story that is raised eight feet above the ground by pilings.
These pilings are not just functional in raising the home above the flood level. They are integrated into the home’s interior. After they pass through the floor they become room dividers, closets, a shower compartment, and utility spaces. It’s a unique style that carries the structural necessities of the home to the inside, connecting the outdoors and indoors.
The pilings continue all the way up through the home’s roof to create projecting sections that divide the rooftop deck from modular planting areas above each bedroom. The tops of the pilings also serve as bases for photovoltaic cells which power geothermal pumps to heat and cool the house.
The home’s heating and cooling is augmented by the wide open area beneath it. The opening allows for effortless air circulation and even allows the family a convenient place to store objects and park their cars – when high water levels don’t make that difficult, of course.