Designed by: Nina Edwards Anker, nea Studio
For client: Nina Edwards Anker Floor area: 1730.00 M² Year of completion: 2019
Submitted for: House of the Year

5 Cocoon
© Caylon Hackwith

About the Project

Cocoon is a sixteen-foot high, L-shaped, three-bedroom LEED-certified weekend home with an open area for living, dining and cooking. Solar powered by electricity, there is no use of oil or gas. Its footprint is shaped by the legal restriction to build at a 150-foot radius from the wetlands and to keep a 35-foot distance from the adjacent properties. Luckily, the view of the greenery towards the ocean faces south, so that the southern glass façade provides both views and passive heating gain. The thermal masses of the thick northern/western walls, supported entirely by timber structure, keep away humidity and retain heat while providing privacy.

The cedar shingle cladding blends in with the architectural material palette of the historic neighborhood and the garden is populated with native plants. The boundary between indoors and outdoors is softened by the pool/cistern, whose horizontal reflective surface bounces off the vertical reflective glass surfaces. The large unbroken sliding doors connect inhabitants with the smells, feel and sounds of the garden and ocean in the distance. By tuning in to given site conditions, adhering to basic Passive House principles, and with the help of environmental technologies such as photovoltaic panels, the architectural design serves both the environment and wellbeing.

What’s unique about it

The sensual experience of the sun in a structure that is half opaque and half exposed guides the framework of the design. In the half of the cottage that is crystalline and transparent, sunlight filters through the translucent colored skylights, reflects off the rainwater-collecting cistern and enters through the glass facades. The colors of the skylights above the bedroom hallway are based on Johann Goethe’s color theory; they range from vermilion red, which signals sunset and rest, above the master bedroom, to deep yellow, which signals zenith and activity, nearest the living room. Geometric patches of colored sunlight from the skylights and glimmering water reflections from the cistern project onto the interior thick white ovoid back ceiling/wall.

The changing daylight on the round projection screen connects to solar rhythms throughout the day, directing attention to biorhythms in the passing of seasonal and diurnal cycles, marking hours through slowly moving light patches. The round shape abstracts the play of light and shadow while cocooning the interior like an ocean wave with light hitting its surface. The LEED certified house partakes in the natural landscape in effective and affective ways, using local building materials as well as passive heating and cooling strategies, combined with state-of-the art environmental technologies.

1 Cocoon
© Caylon Hackwith
2 Cocoon
© Caylon Hackwith
3 Cocoon
© Caylon Hackwith
4 Cocoon
© Caylon Hackwith
6 Cocoon
© Caylon Hackwith
7 Cocoon
© Caylon Hackwith
8 Cocoon
© Caylon Hackwith
9 Cocoon
© Caylon Hackwith
10 Cocoon
© Caylon Hackwith

Video by Corey Richardson

Nina Edwards Anker, Assoc. AIA, PhD

Cocoon house design team

Nina Edwards Anker

Licciardi Builders


Will Laufs, LaufsED

Jordan Goldman, Zero Energy Design

Michael Edwards, Avioworks

Charles von Mueffling, Obelisk Consulting

Russ Nill Inc

Lynbrook Glass

Anna Agoston, Raphael Walter

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