Black and White Beach House employs climate-ready architecture

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Inhabitat, October 11, 2021. By Dawn Hammon.

With construction earning the unwanted title of a top-ranking dirty industry, architecture focused on energy efficiency, natural materials and durability even in the face of natural disasters is a win for the environment and the home or business owner. In consideration of the increased number of hurricanes connected to the effects of climate change in coastal communities, Unabridged Architecture developed the Black and White Beach House to address these issues.

The family complex sits in an area heavily impacted by storm activity, in a historic Gulf of Mexico beach town. In fact, the previous house on the site was lost during Hurricane Katrina. In its place, Black and White Beach House has already endured two substantial hurricanes with its climate-ready design.

Unabridged Architecture co-principal Allison Anderson said, “Built on the site of a home lost in Katrina, creating architecture to last requires a willingness to experiment with form and material to meet climate challenges.”

Developers placed the dual homes at the highest point of land, supported by a plinth to bring it above the flood zone. The move away from the water also preserved a grove of historic oak trees that have survived at least 300 years of coastal storms.

The main home pays homage to traditional southern architecture with a white exterior and wraparound porch, while the next-door additional family home and outbuildings are clad in shou sugi ban, charred Accoya wood. Between the buildings, a terraced garden provides a gathering space, and crushed limestone paths connect the areas. The natural material selection provides a durable and functional walkway that naturally allows stormwater to permeate the surface. Throughout the landscape, walls are built using travertine tiles, and terraces are reinforced with steel edging.

The invasive species that had taken over the lot following Hurricane Katrina were replaced with native plants that grow well with few water requirements. The native habitat is also salt-tolerant and attracts a variety of animals. Architects also addressed energy efficiency with deep overhangs, an airtight building envelope, and comprehensive insulation.

As stated in a press release, Unabridged Architecture is “rooted deeply in building for the future. Their mission is to produce sustainable, resilient design, specializing in architectural responses to climate challenges. Most notably their substantial role in rebuilding Mississippi towns post-Katrina and winning a COTE “Top Ten” award for their Marine Education Center at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory project.”

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