Light, Design, and the Natural Environment: How Waterfront Architecture Deals With the Bigger Picture

Combining design, functionality, and purpose to create harmony in the word home.

Architecture is more than a technical process. There’s a technical aspect to it, sure, but the art of architecture is ultimately about seeing the bigger picture. It’s the art of creating “delight.” 


An architect's relationship to a project is the same as a conductor to an orchestra or a director to a play. More important than any single choice made in the home—the style of doorknob, the height of ceiling or the type of window trim to use— is how each of the intricate decisions regarding space, light and scale respond to each other and complement the surrounding environment— this is where “A Total Work Of Art” is born. 


In waterfront architecture, this responsibility is heightened by the unique honor of building on a signature section of coastline and navigating the challenges and opportunities that come with it.

Working in Harmony With the Realities of the Waterfront


As most waterfront architects would surely agree, a project must make sense within the context of its surrounding environment. How does the home fit in with the natural landscape? More importantly, how will it exist in harmony with it?


The one thing that is always true about nature is that it is objective. There’s nothing personal about a flood that saturates and swells in your newly renovated basement. It’s not the ocean’s vendetta when a hurricane threatens the integrity of your beachfront abode. Nature isn’t out to get you when it works against you.

C Pagliaro Architects - Fairfield Beach (19) (2)

Take the above Fairfield Beach home, for example. Located on the Long Island Sound, it was crucial to incorporate breakaway walls into the first-floor design, just in case a severe storm and a strong surge of water impact the home. The house’s structural integrity will remain intact as the walls that do not provide structural support will give out, minimizing overall damage.


When it comes to waterfront living, it’s not about if it floods, but when it floods. Ensuring the home fits into its surrounding environment goes beyond mere cosmetics. The right architects will take the proper precautions to effectively bolster and prepare the home as it fits into the landscape.

Shining Light on a Coastal Environment’s Gifts


While building on the water comes with its precautions, it’s also the most enticing reason people choose to build homes where they do. Location, location, location. 


This waterfront home in Old Greenwich (pictured below) offered exciting opportunities, for example. Working with a breathtaking view of a quiet tidal inlet, we knew we had to maximize this gem of a location. A glassy front amplifies the singular views of the property and welcomes the sun’s rays into the home at peak moments of the day, quite literally giving light and life to this structure. Ample, curved windows are quintessential for orienting the home around gorgeous views, but they also play a crucial role in properly illuminating the home. 


In this project and most of our projects, the way we manipulate light in the home is a signature touchstone of our architectural philosophy. By using sophisticated design technology that allows us to see how light will enter a home rendering at any time of the day, any day of the year, we can skillfully achieve our duty of honoring the view, light, and landscape with every home we bring to life.


Remembering the Bigger Picture


Your house is more than mere shelter— it’s the place where you plant roots, build family and express yourself aesthetically. It’s the place where your life happens. Building a house on the waterfront is daunting to many because it must also accomplish the grand act of seizing the view around it that cannot be replicated. There are more obstacles involved, more logistical considerations, and more precautionary design decisions that have to be regarded. 


But a waterfront architect is trained in this— trained in designing a home that meets the client’s needs and is up to code with the requirements of the land, yes, but also trained in dealing with the bigger picture, in creating “delight.” Combining design, functionality, and purpose to create harmony in the word home. It’s why our clients trust us with the process of designing a home that enhances and reflects the complete context within the environment and why we trust them to experience and appreciate its grandeur for years to come.


Design a Home That Honors Its Environment With Christopher Pagliaro Architects


Our philosophy is simple: All homes should enhance, as well as reflect, the complete context within the environment. It’s why we use concepts of place, light and texture to create boundary-breaking homes that are born out of their natural landscape.


To learn more about Chris’s thoughts on the latest in waterfront architecture, or to schedule a consultation with the team, call us at 203.838.5517 or fill out the form below.

Want to Learn More About Waterfront Architecture?

Hallmark of a Christopher Pagliaro Architects project is the marriage of the structure and site to create a sense of place. To get started on your waterfront home project, get in touch with our team today.

Let's start a dialogue