Island house is a unique response in the study of a family home, not only in terms of conceptual approach, but also in contextual relationships.
The site is situated in a conservation area on the Island of Sanibel on the west coast of Florida in the United States of America. During the design phase, the client lived in Austria while I am based in South Africa, which means that all communications happened via the internet.
During the early research phase, inspiration was drawn from the vernacular structures of the region such as the Chickee timber structures, as well as from contemporary work of the late Paul Rudolph. Being in a hurricane region on flood plains, high rainfall and high humidity conditions, the climate presents its own unique challenges.
The 2 672 square meters corner site faces a forest on two sides which gave rise to a vertical structure expressed in four levels, in order to overcome the flood regulations of no living spaces on the ground floor, and to be able to secure an ocean view. Of the total 350 square meters floor area, the footprint comprises 128 square meters and consists of 8 four meters by four meters squares accommodating the entrance foyer, garages, gym and laundry. This modular geometric form extrudes vertically to various heights with the entrance foyer square extruded the full 11 meters height of the structure, serving as stairwell. This stairwell functions as a thermal transition zone from the outside to the various internal spaces allowing continuous airflow upwards and through the structure to reduce heat build-up due to high humidity levels. This will reduce the use of air-conditioning considerably, which in turn reduces running costs.
The first floor accommodates all the living spaces and day-time activities such as cooking, eating and lounging in a large open plan space. This space also flows onto a braai patio with staircase leading down to the pool and deck below. A guest bathroom and bedroom with small children’s playroom is also incorporated on this floor.
On the second floor night-time activities are accommodated with three bedrooms and two bathrooms as well as an additional patio.
A loft space of 16 square meters is situated in the roof which serves as a meditational space.
The wall panels of the concrete and steel framed structure consist of three different expressions: concrete blocks, timber cladding and zink-alume cladding. The fenestration consists of three layers: adjustable aluminium louvres on the outside with aluminium and glass windows on the inside and mosquito screens in-between.
The fenestration design, which wraps around the house, ensures quality light and connectivity with the natural context. A simple double pitch roof of long-span zink-alume overhangs the walls to provide additional shading.
Various green building technologies are incorporated in the design to lower maintenance levels and reduce the carbon footprint.