The Dream proposes a contemporary reinterpretation of the colonial architecture of the Caribbean, that of the Barbados islands in particular. A thoroughly analysis of the climatic conditions and the use of some of the traditional materials, together with the study of the construction techniques of the terrain provide us with a new mental toolbox. Nothing can be more stimulating for a team of architects!
The Anglo-Saxon model proposes a few interesting particularities in regards of the organization of teamwork, which we had already experienced during a couple of projects in the Philippines and Dubai.
We joined the project like someone who gets on a moving train. The client had considered at first to reform the original house, of about 400 square meters. Once the program was established, it became clear that demolition was the best option, as the goal was to make it 650 square meters. The client was working with a local team and at a certain time the project came to a standstill. Moving forward had become difficult.
The agreement on the program and the distribution floors was the new starting point. Looking deeper, we noticed that the flow of the initial proposal did not work, as it was depended entirely on a mistaken position of the kitchen on the ground floor. After several fittings, we considered moving the kitchen and the office beside the pool next to the access. Suddenly everything started to make sense. Circulations were optimized, a clear hierarchy between served spaces and server spaces arose –thanks Louis Khan for your wise advice- and balanced spaces emerged. The rooms reached a natural connection, thus suggesting different atmospheres and new moments for everyday life.
Dealing with climate was a key issue. The aim was to achieve, by means of the height of the ceilings, the enclosure system and the distribution on the ground plan, a cross ventilation between the sea front and the rear palm grove which would prevent the air conditioning from being permanently on.
Daily life in the contemporary Caribbean takes place in covered spaces. It’s a transition between the warm, humid exterior – with intermittent rains – and the heated interior. We quickly understood that the key of the architecture there was to expand these intermediate, covered, shaded –but not air-conditioned– spaces to the maximum, thus improving the quality of life. We brought back the idea of the perimeter porch at two levels, so characteristic of the ancient sugar cane mansions, but we projected it towards the interior by means of large sliding panels. This way, the interior spaces are connected to the perimeter veranda and the inside-outside experience is enhanced to the heart of the house.
The plot is long and narrow, with very tight spaces facing the boundaries. Our proposal had to avoid the ‘being inside a box” feel, provide a vehicular access from the street and allow a comfortable entrance to the house and, if applicable, to the pool deck.
For more information about this house click here.
Saint James, Barbados
2008 – 2010
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