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Hus af lys in Cane Bay,U.S. Virgin Islands by Gerville R. Larsen, A.I.A.
July 26th, 2012 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Gerville R. Larsen, A.I.A.
“hus af lys” (Danish for “house of light”) is a single family residence located on the northside of the island of St. Croix. This contemporary residence uses sleek geometries and details to enhance the spectacular views towards Hams Bluff and the Caribbean Sea. St. Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands, is divided geographically into former plantation estates established during Danish Colonial rule. The Crucian landscape is dotted with predominantly stone monuments of sugar mills, smoke stacks and factory buildings, executed by highly skilled enslaved African craftsmen, which still stand almost intact today.
This residence employs large distinct volumes to emulate the essence of these historic monuments while employing a contemporary aesthetic to ground the building in present day. Smooth plaster impregnated with color pigment and caliche stone veneers are materials used throughout the island’s history and are used to contexturalize this residence. Large openings with impact E-glass provide volumes of light and air to interior spaces that blur the division between outside and inside space.
Siting of the residence maximizes the views and allows proper cross ventilation to capture the tradewinds and minimize the need for mechanical systems in the home. The main structural system is reinforced utilizing cell-filled concrete blocks with poured concrete, steel columns and bond beams. The design will meet high wind load and seismic 4 requirements.
The main residence is 2,000 square feet with a 400 square foot independent pod that is sited to maximize the trapezoidal lot shape. Cross ventilation, solar screens, cistern catchments and solar panels are a few of the sustainable measures that helped shape this design. Contemporary architecture has not been prolific in the US Virgin Islands to date and this design forges this aesthetic forward while still feeling appropriate to site and place.
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