Sustainable building is not a modern concept. Ancient cultures knew a thing or two about conserving resources and engineering a home to work in harmony with its environment. Long before the advent of HVAC and 21st-century building systems, the dwellings of our ancestors were harnessing the power of sun, wind, earth, and water to create living spaces that were both comfortable and energy efficient. Of course, post-industrial houses do have their benefits (indoor plumbing, beer fridges, hi-def surround sound), so the task becomes figuring out how to integrate antiquity’s greatest green lessons into designs that meet the lifestyle demands of today. That is what Tradewinds, our show home for the 2008 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla., set out to do.
Blending timeless natural principles with the latest building products and technologies was no small feat—and for that sizable challenge we called in the experts at Geoffrey Mouen Architects, Charles Clayton Construction, and Brown & Deddens Design Studio. They embarked on an ambitious archeological dig through time, disassembling centuries-old building forms and traditions into a kit of parts, and then putting them back together in a high-performance home for the ages.
Allowing form to follow function, the residence that now stands at 5006 Benwick Alley is unlike any other in the acclaimed TND of Baldwin Park. With its pavilions, pediments, and central courtyard, it evokes the architectural geometry of ancient Greece and Rome. Deep overhangs and oversized shutters are decidedly Caribbean in their battened response to hot sun and torrential rain. The home’s concrete and stucco shell gives credence to the building blocks Addison Mizner first introduced to South Florida in the 1920s as an alternative to stick-built framing. And with its cathedral ceilings and vertical window arrays, some might even call this house contemporary gothic.
For all its references, though, it defies vernacular classification. Like ships once propelled by trade winds to distant shores to bring back exotic flavors, this home is a vessel full of experimental ideas, hybrid aesthetics, and pragmatic reinterpretations of age-old practices. Its style is transcendent, and its hatch is full. Check it out.