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Self-sufficient Sail House by David Hertz Architects looks like a ship

INHABITAT by Dawn Hammon


It’s a nautical home that boasts plenty of space for entertaining plus a self-sufficient design. The Sail House, designed by renowned sustainability architect David Hertz in Los Angeles, was selected as the 2021 Architizer A+Awards Jury Winner for Residential, Private House (XL > 6,000 square feet).


Dubbed the Sail House, it’s actually a main house and several guest houses clustered together on Bequia Island, Grenadines, in the Caribbean. Because the Caribbean is a notoriously difficult area to obtain building materials, the entire complex was prefabricated offsite, flat-packed and delivered via 15 shipping containers. Not only did this provide minimal site impact to the sensitive ecology of the region, but it also created nearly zero waste, which would have needed to be removed from the island.


The house was named for its notable tensile roofs, inspired by the history of sailing in the area. Hertz said, “The main inspiration for the Sail House was a wooden boat with its masts and sails, the expressed stainless steel rigging and hardware, which is referenced in the home.” The sails do more than pay homage to the culture though. They act as a rain collection system, funneling water into a concrete foundation for storage. The system provides for 100% of water needs, and air is pulled from the stored water to cool the space when needed. In addition, the cantilevered roofline enhances shading and ventilation for natural cooling.


The inside and outside of the structures employ natural materials such as woven palm, coconut shell fragments and surfaces crafted by Javanese and Balinese artisans. The Sail House’s energy needs are met through the use of solar panels.


“Sustainability was one of the main goals of the Sail House project,” Hertz explained. “The non-corrosive and termite-resistant aluminum structural system is wrapped in reclaimed ironwood planks recycled from an abandoned pier in Borneo, as are the plank floors, decks, and the vertical louvers that control low sun and prevailing breezes.”

+ David Hertz Architects

Photography by Nicola Cornwell via v2com


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