A Hamptons House Built to Withstand the Grandchildren

A few years after their daughters moved from the mountainous western edge of Austria to the concrete canyons of New York, Konrad and Doris Wuehrer decided to start a new tradition.

Instead of expecting their children to return home to Austria every summer — as the women, Barbara Wuehrer-Engelking and Monika Wuhrer (who uses a variant spelling of the surname), were beginning to start families of their own — the parents would organize a family vacation in the United States, renting a beach house with room for everyone.

At first, it was Cape Cod. But after a few years, when the drive proved too long for the increasing number of grandchildren (the New York-based sisters now have five sons between them), they switched to the Hamptons, and found a house in the Springs hamlet of East Hampton.

“We thought it was really good: nature, living, recreation,” said Mr. Wuehrer, 80, a retired mechanical engineer.

It was so good, in fact, that as the years and memories piled up, he said, “we decided to buy a house.”

Finding the right one, however, proved challenging. Every house they saw was too small, too close to neighbors or in dismal condition.

But the children had some ideas of their own. Ms. Wuehrer-Engelking, 49, an architect who works on low-income housing and restoration projects, had married another architect, Jerome Engelking, 45, who had experience designing upscale residential and commercial buildings at Richard Meier & Partners Architects.

Why not look for land, Mr. Engelking suggested, where he could design a family home from the ground up?

The Wuehrers liked the idea and eventually found a forested lot of a little more than three acres, bounded on two sides by a nature preserve where Springs meets Amagansett. As Mr. Wuehrer put it, “It’s a really nice property in the middle of the woods, almost like a park.”

“It’s just trees, deer and birds,” Mr. Engelking said, which meant they wouldn’t need to worry about the children disturbing the neighbors. “That sealed the deal.”

The Wuehrers bought the property for $575,000 in 2014, and Mr. Engelking set to work, with Ms. Wuehrer-Engelking facilitating communications between her father and husband.

“I do architecture, but it’s completely different,” she said of her work, so she let her husband take the lead. “You cannot have two architects with two different opinions.”

Impressed with the secluded, unspoiled site, Mr. Engelking envisioned a house that would be visually wide open. “I suggested a glass house, to maximize the generous opportunities of the surroundings,” he said.

Mr. Wuehrer was intrigued, but felt that a house made of wood would be cozier.

“He wanted something that felt homey, not a machine for living,” Mr. Engelking said. “These two things didn’t necessarily jibe.”

Construction began in May 2016 and took about a year to complete, at a cost of $500 a square foot. But “that included a lot of sweat equity,” said Mr. Engelking, who managed the many contractors and oversaw the work.

The transparent house may not be what Mr. Wuehrer initially imagined, but he is happy with the result. “The conception is very clear, and I like that,” he said. “One side for sleeping, one side for living and dining, and every room has a door to the garden. It provides privacy for everybody staying in the house.”

Sahred From Source link Real Estate

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