Isabela, Puerto Rico
This project investigates the building of a house on ecologically sensitive dunes in northwest Puerto Rico for a surfer and landscape architect researching and designing within North Atlantic dune ecologies. The design challenge is to make a project that can be occupied part-time during the year and is capable of being washed through by future ocean storms similar to Hurricane Sandy. Conceptually, the project could be read as being analogous to a seashell for a hermit crab, one that is eroded by waves and wind while cyclically serving as a ruin and a home. The traces of sand-flow patterns through this house inform its design. Overlays of residential, form making by John Lautner, the animate forms of Greg Lynn, and architectural precedents in ruled-surface concrete formwork inform the thinking in this project. Curved concrete forms provide greater structural opportunities for resisting wave impacts than plumb walls, as they divert and diffuse the wave forces both vertically and laterally. This design approach allows water and sand to flow over inclined walls, allowing walls to act as anchors to prevent the undermining of the ground floor slab, and, importantly, creates less erosion in the adjacent dunes.