Raising up a house on stilts is no new idea for coastal homebuilding—see Malaysia, the Philippines, and the Gulf Coast of the United States. Now areas like the Lowcountry of South Carolina are stipulating that ground-up homes comply with regulations to limit damage from storms and flooding: not just stilts, but increasing structural stiffness, using hurricane-resistant doors and windows, and setting back buildings to preserve protective dunes.
New York-based Stephen Yablon Architect met these restrictions while breaking architectural ground in Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, a somewhat traditional beach community outside of Charleston. A London couple lives in the house full-time over the summer, and requested an addition to their existing abode in order to entertain more frequently. Yablon added more social space, both indoor and outdoor, as well as guest rooms, an office, and a kitchenette in a pavilion structure raised 12 feet above grade.
According to Yablon, "Most raised coastal homes use the space underneath for storage or parking." Here, however, he programmed a shaded veranda into the overhang, adjacent to a 66-foot trapezoidal infinity pool. "The addition is treated like a boat," says the firm, "with the typical under-house mechanical elements neatly incorporated above in storage spaces and built-in furniture." The pavilion’s structural system, a rigid steel cage without any interior support columns or walls, provides superb hurricane resistance and allows for open airy interiors.
Other functional design elements include floor-to-ceiling hurricane windows and louvered screens makde of sustainably-harvested ipé, a tropical hard wood resistant to humidity. The landscape design incorporates native plants while minimizing the amount of lawn and impermeable surfaces, significantly reducing storm water run-off and the need for extensive irrigation.
Kelsey Keith has written about design, art, and architecture for a variety of print and online publications.
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