David Hertz's Sustainable "Sail House" Recognized as the Year's Best Architecture by Architizer A+Awards

 The Sail House by David Hertz Architects, Studio of Environmental Architecture, has been selected as the 2021 Architizer A+Awards Jury Winner for Residential, Private House (XL >6,000 sq ft). The house was designed by international award-winning sustainable architect, David Hertz, of Los Angeles, CA. The Sail House is a dappled array of structures, consisting of a primary residence and several guesthouses. The project is named for the nautical-inspired tensile roofs, which are a contextual response to the Grenadines' sailing culture and environmental building systems.


Photo credit: Nicola Cornwell

The main inspiration for the Sail House was a wooden boat with its masts and sails, the expressed stainless steel rigging and hardware, which is referenced in the home.

David Hertz

Since construction in the Caribbean can be difficult with its limited resources, all systems are prefabricated and embedded, including the electrical and plumbing systems and the structural systems consisting of custom fabricated extruded aluminum beams and columns, bolted together with a special fitting and only requiring one common tool, were all manufactured, pre fabricated and pre assembled in Indonesia and shipped along with the tensile roof membranes in 15 shipping containers and assembled over a couple month period.  The goal of the shipping process was to maximize density and efficiency with zero waste. The prefabricated structure is set upon a concrete box that acts as a cistern for water collection and anchors the residence to the ground. It allows the aluminum beams to be cantilevered off the base, providing minimal impact on the jungle.


Photo credit: Nicola Cornwell

Sustainability was one of the main goals of the Sail House project. The non-corrosive and termite-resistant aluminum structural system is wrapped in reclaimed ironwood planks recycled from an abandoned pier in Borneo, as are the plank floors, decks, and the vertical louvers that control low sun and prevailing breezes.

David Hertz

Other interior/exterior finishes are panels made of woven palm, coconut shell fragments, and many other natural, highly crafted surfaces created by Javanese and Balinese craftsmen. 


Photo credit: Nicola Cornwell

Sustainable features include storm water collection, reclaimed wood, passive ventilation, and photovoltaic panels. The project generates its own electricity, collects its own water, and provides a genuine indoor/outdoor relationship conducive to the local micro-climate. The tensile roof membranes provide deep shade and large overhangs from the equatorial sun, not achievable from a typical rigid roof. The roofs create a swooping form designed to collect rainwater and create a thermal chimney to exhaust heat out of the top by maximizing cross ventilation. Collected water in the cisterns in the foundations is used to draw cooler air up through the central mast to cool the house if needed. Rain and dew that fall on the large roof areas are directed to the stainless steel clamp plates at the roof edges, collecting and funneling water into the structural aluminum masts and down to the concrete foundations. The foundation dually functions as large cisterns that provide 100% water demands for use on the property. The annual water needs are produced on-site in this manner, proving that resilience can be both beautiful and tactical. 


Photo credit: Nicola Cornwell

The project was realized by a truly international team. The clients are from London, the architect from Los Angeles, the engineers from Germany and everything was fabricated in Java and Bali, Indonesia while the house was re assembled by both local Caribbean and Javanese craftsman. The construction cost of the project worked out to be less than $250.00/sf.

About David Hertz Architects, Studio of Environmental Architecture

SEA is dedicated to the design and construction of sustainable and restorative places. By designing with nature, they create architecture of enduring value for people and the planet. 

The studio has particular expertise in regenerative design and sustainability in residential and commercial projects. It believes architecture must strive to reverse global climate change and prepare for the environmental volatility of the Anthropocene. To that end, a think-tank within the studio—Resilience Lab—develops green technology and provides communities with planning services. They also help families recover from disasters through fire-rebuilds and related projects. They believe that enlightened architecture can heal people and restore ecosystems, ensuring symbiosis between built and natural environments.