For thousands of years, the four elements have been the subject of various conceptual interpretations by many different cultures. However, in asian cultures, water, air, earth, and fire are most often seen as incarnating spiritual connections. Instead of concentrating on their material existence, their physical and tactile attributes are perceived for their sensory qualities. Early Buddhist texts describe the four elements as being connected to the sensory aspects of solidity, fluidity, temperature, and mobility. In Japan, under the influence of the indigenous religion Shintoism, water is believed to incarnate the purity and pliant simplicity of life. It is also believed to be the primary force in life.
In Florida, the four elements are transcended through the subtropical macro-climate that embodies humidity (water), heat (fire), breezes (air) emanating from the surrounding waters, and the dense tropical vegetation (earth). Reacting to this contextual aspect, the design of the house capitalizes on the site’s micro-climate scale that becomes a catalyst to develop sensory responses that can be felt, perceived, seen, and heard.
The u-shape plan of the house maximizes the interiors’ exposure to the exterior soft and hardscapes that surround the entire house to create a feeling of being immersed in nature. The large sliding glass doors located on each side of the house, as well a the homogeneous continuation of the interior flooring to the exterior, reinforce this boundless experience. Bodies of water are strategically located on the prevalent side of the incoming winds and along the sliding glass doors. As breezes pass across the surface of the water, the warm air is cooled as it enters the house and traverses the interior spaces through cross-ventilation. The Florida sun and subsequent heat are blocked from entering the house by the upper roof overhangs. At the ground level, sliding screens can be manually positioned to regulate heat, light, and glare.