Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
North Beach in Orcas Island, Washington by Heliotrope Architects
May 5th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
This residence is located on a northwesterly oriented beach fronting the Strait of Georgia. The site includes many second-growth douglas firs, a beech grove and a grassy meadow with good solar exposure. For over a thousand years this site was a summer camp location for the Lummi Indians, and due to its archeological significance, no footing excavation could take place on the site. Further, its location in a federally designated flood plain required that the structure be raised off the ground several feet. The design brief called for a very low-impact, easy to maintain summer home that provides necessary programmatic functions with minimum distractions from the land and the view.
The design response situates the structure among the trees directly between the beach and the meadow, with walls of glass opening out to both. While actual shelter is provided, the experience is of nearly complete openness to the environment, with a minimized structure meant to disappear from view. Steel tube columns minimize visible structure from the interior, while wood shear-wall elements provide a bold form when seen from the exterior.
A matt-slab was utilized to avoid excavation, and the foundation recessed to minimize the footprint. The roof is vegetated, which filters rainwater that in turn is collected and stored for use in irrigating the garden and flushing toilets. Potable hot water and hydronic heating are aided by 90 evacuated tube collectors on the roof, and a 4kW PV panel system above the vegetable garden provides supplemental electricity. The home is intended for occupancy from May through October, and systems have been designed to zero out electricity use over the course of a full year.
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