PROJECT INFO

Beach Residence
Sullivan's Island, South Carolina
1995


In an insufferable climate such as often affects the Lowcountry, reprieve from the rigors of heat, humidity and wind is a natural inclination that is most often mitigated by mechanical buffers. This results in a body removal from the landscape and a cultural distancing which begs the question: where are we -- here or there?

The beach house is a replacement for the original Jim Walter home destroyed by Hurricane Hugo. Located on a well populated barrier island, the design breaks from prevailing beach house typologies and finds it's grounding in other ways. Formerly a military reservation, the site is directly in front of two earthen ammunition bunkers built during WWII. These sentinels have presided over the island for years. The house continues this protective posture by drawing cover over itself to shroud the house from the vagaries of the coastal clime and resides near the edge of the beach providing both a reprieve from and connection to the water beyond.

Diagrammatically, the house consist of three parts: an ambiguous zone defined by a diaphanous screen, the communal space idealized as a cube, and a linear bedroom / core element. The arrangement mimics the bunkers in the background where a concrete retaining wall is punctuated with a circular gun emplacement. The bunkers have long since been converted to residences.

The "porch" as a cultural condition has traditionally provided an occupiable yet ambiguous zone between inside and out -- neither one or the other. The blurring of these two realms intensifies that otherness that one experiences on a humid summer afternoon in the South. A latticed "scrim" shrouds the principal communal space and provides sanctuary and reprieve. One enters the house from the ground floor and moves between the scrim and house. The remainder of the latticed enclosure is used as a screened porch. The scrim is placed on exposed grade beam pads which "grounds" the scrim wall whereas the house itself is "floated" on exposed pilings. This inverse relationship permits the house to substantiate itself relative to the site yet minimizes the risks associated with storm surges and the like as only the screen extends to the ground plane.

The stair tower is a vented plume vacating hot air from the house through heat siphoning. The scrim is constructed of wood framing with farmed-redwood lattice and a standing seam metal roof. The living portion of the house utilizes fiber cement panels with wood battens. The interior finishes are white birch throughout and oak floors. The roof framing at the porch area is exposed and painted a soft blue to ward off evil influences in the spirit of sea island domesticity.