The Sail House is a land yacht, a dappled array of structures integrated into the tropical jungle, that sits on a prominent ridge line on the top of Bequia, an Island in the Grenadine Island chain.
Consisting of a main residence a caretakers residence and several guesthouses, the project is named for the nautically inspired tensile roofs, forms that are a contextual response to the sailing culture of the Grenadines.
The main inspiration was that of a wooden boat with its masts and sails, the expressed stainless steel rigging, and hardware which is referenced in the home. The tensile roof membranes provide deep shade and large overhangs from the equatorial sun, not achievable from a typical rigid roof. The roofs create a swooping form designed to collect rain water and to create a thermal chimney to exhaust heat out of the top by maximizing cross ventilation. Collected water in the cisterns in the foundations are 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 which collect and funnel water into the structural aluminum masts and down to the concrete foundations that dually function as large cisterns that provide 100% of the water demands for use on the property. The annual water needs are produced on site in this manner, proving that resilience can be both beautiful and tactical.
Considering the difficulty of construction in the Caribbean with its limited resources, the buildings are all prefabricated and flat-packed to the island in containers in a system developed for this project to maximize density and efficiency with zero waste.
All systems are prefabricated and embedded, including the electrical and plumbing systems and the structural systems consisting of custom fabricated extruded aluminum beams and columns, bolted together with a special fitting and only requiring one common tool, were all manufactured, pre fabricated and pre assembled in Indonesia and shipped along with the tensile roof membranes in 15 shipping containers and assembled over a couple month period. The prefabricated structure is set upon a concrete box that acts as a cistern for water collection, that anchors the residence to the ground and allows the aluminum beams to be cantilevered off the base providing minimal impact into the jungle.
The non corrosive and termite resistant aluminum structural system is wrapped in reclaimed iron wood planks that are recycled from an abandoned pier in Borneo, as are the plank floors and decks and the vertical louvers that control low sun and prevailing breezes. Interior/ exterior finishes include many beautiful natural highly crafted surfaces from Javanese and Balinese craftsman including wall panels made of woven palm, coconut shell fragments and other organic surfaces. The project was realized by a truly international team. The clients are from London, the architect from Los Angeles, the engineers from Germany and everything was fabricated in Java and Bali, Indonesia while the house was re assembled by both local Caribbean and Javanese craftsman. The project generates its own electricity, collects its own water, and provides for truly indoor/ outdoor relationship conducive to the local microclimate. The construction cost of the project worked out to be less than $250.00/sf.