Beach Road 2 Residence by Hughes Umbanhowar Architects
Hughes Umbanhowar Architects have designed the Beach Road 2 Residence on Jupiter Island in Florida, USA. It is slipped into the rolling terrain of the sensitive coastal sand dunes that stretch along the edge of the island.
The amazing location imposed strict environmental restrictions on the shape of the building’s envelope on the site so the architects took the opportunity to place the home between an existing seawall and the state coastal control line.
Like driftwood collecting in courses on the beach, the house comfortably nestles in the interstices between waterfront and road along a narrow site on the northern coast of Jupiter Island. Spare in its 3,600 square feet, the house and its materials manifest the surprise of a beachcomber’s serendipitous and precious finds—of worn beach glass, an abandoned marine vessel, or an ephemeral pattern in the sand—and a riff on spontaneity and permanence. Completed in 2004, the house embodies the same complexities and dichotomies that characterize Jupiter Island. At once modern and timeless, the house is both a quaint coastal cottage and a chic isle villa. The cerebral geometries of the house are complemented by the pitched nautical dynamism of a structure perched on piers and railings, ready to set sail at a moment’s notice.
The design consciously plumbs the elements of glass, sand and aluminum for their metaphorical and material possibilities in three distinctive “laboratories” for living. Discrete sections comprise: “sand” which encloses the sleeping area, “aluminum” which enlivens the entertaining space, and “glass” which enhances the contemplative living space. Each segment is sensitively oriented to capture light and views. The ceramic fritted glass of the kitchen and dining room lends translucency and visual play to the south-facing two-story entertaining space. The textured face of stucco or “sand” of the north-facing sleeping area underscores the ancient wisdom of worn stone, an apt sensibility for an intimate space infused soft morning light and its concomitant tranquility. Linking the two, the central kitchen area is sheathed with louvers, or “hull”, imparting an affable sense of camaraderie and storytelling.
This nexus of glass and sand naturally begets a lively, if not theatrical, space—a stage for entertaining, food preparation and dining. Aluminum louvers below mediate the heat of the day, offering cool filtered light to the west. As evening advances, guests can wander to the rooftop lap pool to take in the views to the east and south. Whether viewed above or below, the compelling gesture of the pool provides a visual and visceral link to the thin wavering line of twilight at dusk, or the vast cerulean midday expanse. While modest, this rooftop “aquatic garden” augments the sense of space externally and internally, while functionally providing a dramatic, convenient and private space for an invigorating swim. During the day, the cool azure of the water is transmitted and transmuted into the living space through skylights embedded in the pool floor. The dynamic interplay of light and shadow invigorates the space below.
Denizens are free to take in the marinescape from the rooftop, or through the unobstructed expansive window views of the bulthaup kitchen below where they are comfortably sheltered from chill evening breezes. The kitchen contains generous countertops, offering space for culinary exploration, genial entertaining, or for a tranquil morning of solitude with a strong coffee and newspaper. Situated on the beach, the house affords direct access to the water, reinforcing the immediacy of the relationship to site and the spontaneity of island living.