by Jincy IypeApr 23, 2020
BarlisWedlick Architects has converted a mid-century private residence called Beckoning Path in Armonk, New York, into a spectacular private wellness retreat. The 743.2 sqm secluded property is spread across a 27-acre lake front, surrounded and in turn elevated by the sounds and visuals of raw nature. “This contemplative space captures the spirit of escape and communion with nature, blending 21st century high-performance living with mid-century modern aesthetics,” describes the firm.
Originally owned by Ted Nierenberg, Founder, Dansk International Designs, Beckoning Path was built in the 1960s by Danish designer Jens Quistgaard, replete with vaulted ceilings, expansive glass walls, a distinct spiked copper roof, wood imported from Denmark and other Scandinavian elements. The roofline was reminiscent of Quistgaard’s aesthetic and the Scandanavian influence.
Beckoning Path was renovated with an aim to create a place that merged the practical programmatic requirements of a wellness retreat with the existing structure. A dark walnut pedestrian bridge beckons one toward the spiked roof entrance of the refuge, its polished timber and roomy interiors visible from a distance. The wellness retreat is stationed among the natural environment, its design seeking to celebrate the gorgeous views and landscaping, connected via massive glass openings that let in natural light.
The firm relays that since the structure was originally a home, the conversion required fundamental rethinking: “The intention was to synchronise it with the surrounding landscape by repurposing existing materials, letting the natural surroundings inspire all new material choices, and focusing on views to the surrounding property.”
BarlisWedlick reimagined the main, upper level as a “streamlined, glass pavilion". This was done by tearing down as many interior walls as possible in the upper level, in order to convert the existing timber-frame structure into an open glass pavilion. They extended this level which previously rested on a slighter base, covering the brick with locally quarried granite, to help merge better with its natural context. The rebuilt base now includes a shimmering pool with a circular skylight carved into the ceiling above, a powerful thermal barrier ensured by high performance windows, heat-recovery ventilators, and layers of insulation.
This reimagined glass pavilion houses three roomy studios – a visitor enters the roomy central one which is flanked by two cosy, wood burning fireplaces, surrounded by blue stone mantels. All furniture is planned to be folded and rolled out, expanding space according to needs. Bean bags are strewn across the otherwise empty floor, along with a few white pillows that are arranged for meditation and stretching.
The next studio also performs as a meeting room, complete with a dining area and kitchen, with light wood furniture and cabinets. The third one rests at the other end and doubles up as a cosy bedroom, with a Murphy bed and an en-suite bathroom attached. These three spaces are segregated by movable partitions that allow them to function as separate units or as one spread-out entity. The materials employed here visually complement the existing timber elements and the colour palette of the great outdoors.
The lower level lies nestled among the thick, natural foliage and rock ledge, comprising spaces for guest accommodations, a gym, spa and treatment facilities, a multimedia presentation studio, an indoor pool and private meditation rooms. When not being used, the latter also transform into meeting rooms, acupuncture rooms and bedrooms for overnight guests. AV equipment is hidden throughout the Beckoning Path’s interior design by copper panelling, while planted remote-controlled kinetic sound sculptures emit soothing sounds.
“Whenever possible, passive house principles were used to improve the shell’s performance and to address the thermal challenges of this unique mid-century, timber-frame structure, all while maintaining the original building’s formal and structural expression. Daylight analyses assisted the designing and calibration of the environmentally responsive lighting system,” shares the design team.
The project also uses a variety of restored, refurbished, and salvaged materials to enhance sustainability. The furniture and accents were decided keeping in mind function, the flexibility of spaces as well as maintaining the aesthetics with its site.