Located in a well-preserved village in the rural centre of Portugal, this small house, like many of... More
For the Roatán Próspera residences, Zaha Hadid Architects with AKT II and Hilson Moran Partnership have developed a new digital architectural platform. Located on the island of Roatán, one of the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras, the platform was key in developing housing with a specific ecological and social response to the climate, terrain, and culture of the region.
The team’s design approach starts with a comprehensive understanding of local supply chain, logistics, and construction techniques. This involved in particular sourcing sustainable timber from certified forests on the Honduran mainland for structural elements and further treating this timber locally. Digital information technologies were paramount to the sustainable design process, optimizing the use of all parts of the forested logs to minimize waste and pollution as well as reducing the embedded construction energy and the carbon footprint of the development.
The dimensions of each structure’s base timber units follow the constraints of local transportation networks to ensure carbon emissions and logistics costs are minimised. The use of lightweight timber results in a reduced and adaptive foundation system that can be fabricated off-site, keeping intervention to the site minimal and providing maximum protection to the native flora and fauna of the site.
As a prefabricated system, the houses are divided into a ‘kit of parts’ that can be quickly assembled on-site by local craftsmen, tradesmen, and construction teams. The parts can be arranged to accommodate the specific spatial needs of family members, share resources with neighbours, and allow flexibility for communal modules such as a children’s play area. All suppliers are given full assistance to develop their product lines to the 3d digital information model of the houses and terrain.
Passive environmental control strategies minimize energy consumption by reducing temperatures and improving thermal comfort, with little to no requirement for mechanical ventilation. The houses are designed to be self-shading, open, and oriented towards the prevailing sea breeze to provide natural cooling. When required, water is removed from the atmosphere for supplementary cooling by dehumidification. The water is harvested and filtered and available for use in each home. Canopies are shaped to accommodate photovoltaic arrays for renewable power generation with batteries able to store renewable electricity for future use.
In terms of module size, the residences are divided into ‘voxels’, with each voxel being 35 square meters in plan area and 4 meters in height. Residential units vary from 35 sqm for a studio – or 1 voxel, to 173 sqm, being 5 voxels. The parametric approach to the design of each residence and the overall composition of the development yields many different possibilities united by a coherent formal logic and materiality. At least 15,000 different variations of plans up to 5 voxels are possible.
Further customization can be found as the platform also gives a choice of built-in furniture modules and spatial arrangements to suit individual lifestyles and preferences. These modules include walk-in wardrobes and conversation pits designed to integrate into walls or contained in islands within each room. Homeowners can also appoint local suppliers to create furniture specific for each room using the digital assets that the configuration platforms provide including the 3D model of the home.