Dedicated to the design and construction of sustainable and restorative places, David Hertz Architects, Studio of Environmental Architecture (SEA), is focussed on designing with nature, by creating architecture of enduring value for people and the planet. Each project is a unique architectural expression that responds to client needs, site specificities, the local climate and new ideas. Their latest project, called the Sail House, has earned them several industry awards.

Sailing away

The Sail House was designed by international award-winning sustainable architect, David Hertz, of Los Angeles, California. It has been selected as the 2021 Architizer A+Awards jury winner for a residential private house larger than 500m².

The Sail House, named for its nautical-inspired tensile roofs, which are a contextual response to the Grenadines’ sailing culture and environmental building systems, is also a dappled array of structures, consisting of a primary residence and several guesthouses. David Hertz comments: “The main inspiration for the Sail House was a wooden boat with its masts and sails, the expressed stainless-steel rigging and hardware, which is referenced in the home.”

Clever design and construction

Since construction in the Caribbean can be difficult with its limited resources, the buildings were prefabricated and flat-packed to the island in 15 shipping containers. The goal of the shipping process was to maximise density and efficiency with zero waste.

The prefabricated structure is set upon a concrete box that acts as a cistern for water collection and anchors the residence to the ground. It allows the aluminium beams to be cantilevered off the base, providing minimal impact on the jungle.

“Sustainability was one of the main goals of the Sail House project. The non-corrosive and termite-resistant aluminium structural system is wrapped in reclaimed ironwood planks recycled from an abandoned pier in Borneo, as are the plank floors, decks and the vertical louvers that control low sun and prevailing breezes,” notes Hertz.

Incorporating natural elements

The interior/exterior finishes are panels made of woven palm, coconut shell fragments and many other natural, highly crafted surfaces created by Javanese and Balinese craftsmen.

The project provides a genuine indoor/outdoor relationship conducive to the local microclimate and its main sustainable features include:
• Stormwater collection.
• Reclaimed wood.
• Passive ventilation.
• Photovoltaic panels.
• Generates its own electricity.
• Collects its own water.

Unique roofing benefits

The tensile roof membranes provide deep shade and large overhangs from the equatorial sun, which is not achievable from a typical rigid roof. In addition, the roofs create a swooping form designed to collect rainwater and create a thermal chimney to exhaust heat out of the top by maximising cross ventilation.

Collected water in the cisterns in the foundations is used to draw cooler air up through the central mast to cool the house if needed. Rain and dew that fall on the large roof areas are directed to the stainless-steel clamp plates at the roof edges, collecting and funnelling water into the structural aluminium masts and down to the concrete foundations.

The foundation dually functions as large cisterns that provide 100% water demands for use on the property, with the annual water needs produced on-site in this manner, proving that resilience can be both beautiful and tactical.

Hertz comments in conclusion: “We have particular expertise in regenerative design and sustainability in residential and commercial projects, as we believe architecture must strive to reverse global climate change and prepare for the environmental volatility of the Anthropocene.”

• Architect: David Hertz, David Hertz Architects, Studio of Environmental Architecture.
• House fabrication: TomaHouse.
• Principal consulting on design: David Hertz FAIA.
• Project architect: Eric Lindeman.
• Project designers: Stephan Schilli / TomaHouse.
• Structural, MEP and envelope engineering: TomaHouse.
• Landscape architect: By client.
• Lighting designer: TomaHouse.
• Climate consultant: David Hertz Architects Inc.
• Suppliers: TomaHouse.

IMAGES: Nicola Cornwell

Our sincere thanks and appreciation to for the use of the information contained in this article.

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