Designing homes for natural environments often presents a paradox: how, when most construction systems are inherently geared towards both speed and efficiency, can the act of building align to the rhythm of the landscape? While processes we commonly associate with the natural environment, – erosion, weathering, and patination, for example – are far more gradual, the pace with which we build is on an exponential rise.
That said, we have an inherent yearning to retreat. As the world continues to urbanize and our feeling of isolation from the natural world grows, our desire for a place away from the milieu of city life increases. Many of those who can afford to build a getaway recognize the fundamental responsibility that comes with it: a duty to enhance, as opposed to light, the landscape in which it is set and engaging with the surroundings in an innovative and considered way.
Harbour Island is a relaxed yet luxurious getaway perched in the surreal cerulean waters of the Atlantic edge of the Great Bahama bank. In this earnest and timeless place, the architecture for this private residence is conceived as simultaneously powerful, yet comfortable; primitive, yet innovative; casual, yet elegant; raw, yet refined. It is designed for the purpose to look at nature, the topography of the site being a part of the structure, driving the shape of the building. The result is a sensual and sensitive experience, reduced to its essence through the use of elemental forms and sincere materiality and detailing.. The most dramatic view of the ocean is botained towards the crest of the dunes. The central space of the house is essentially an open breezeway, allowing visual and pedestrian connectivity across the site. Within this pavilion space there are living and dining areas that open onto verandahs well protected from the elements by the deep overhangs of the gabled roof. The rest of the living spaces are simply arranged around the central space, the rooms depart on the side. Materials have been selected for their distinctive sincerity, environmental sensitivity, and a resonance with the vernacular. The house establishes a delicate meditative and mediating space that ushers a transition from lush tropic landscape to wide languorous ocean.
Architects who embrace nature, and especially those who push the boundaries of what is materially possible, deserve to be celebrated. This home is defined by a certain sensibility that manifests itself, with exceptional beauty, in an architecture that is in conversation with its context.