Sun, wind and light - these elements are central to our design work, however our response to them differs from place to place. This project, situated on an ocean-front site at 25 degrees N latitude, is exposed to extreme ocean winds and intense sunlight. Additionally, the building site is 12 feet above sea level, subjecting it to potential coastal storm surge. These site factors greatly influenced our design response for this retreat home, to be built for an American family of five.
Our design solution features careful placement of openings to avoid wind, and the ability to manage wind via carefully placed operable window-walls. Intense sunlight is managed through shading of all dwelling areas, inside and out. This is achieved via a large breeze-block shade wall, placement of second floor massing and generous overhangs. The entire home is elevated over 5ft, allowing storm surge to either flow around or under the three structures.
Program elements are situated to create a courtyard space, with a fire element at its center, which serves as the focal-point and metaphorical ‘heart’ of the home. Bedrooms are situated to maximize privacy between them, and all spaces are oriented to offer expansive ocean views. Building forms are simple, working within the comfort zone of our local builder, and materials and finishes were selected based on local talent available – namely: masonry, tile, stucco and cedar shingle roofing.
The resulting expression comfortably balances modernity with the historical architectural character of the island, which features structures dating back to the British colonial era.