Using traditional Bermuda elements, a fabulous high design, multi-unit resort-style vacation home is born and wins runner up in our 2014 Building Design Awards
Spindrift’s design, by architectural firm CTX, is a fine example of the successful merging of the Bermuda vernacular with international high design. A spectacular vacation home set deep within Tuckers Town, Spindrift features all the island motifs you would expect—chimneys, buttresses, a revealed wall plate at the junction of the roof and wall, eyebrows on the gables, cement wash finishes—and all the ultramodern interiors you wouldn’t.
Achieving the striking contrast between the traditional exterior and the starkly modern interior was no easy task for Jacob Hocking of CTX, who admits this is the most complicated project he has worked on to date—a project spanning three years from initial design to completion. The owner, who generally resides in New York, had a unique vision for the project: instead of one large house in the middle of the property, he wanted five separate cottages—each with a distinct function and all with a specific relation to the surrounding landscape and view.
“The owner has a keen interest in architecture and was very focused on making sure that the cottages were part of the landscape, that they both worked together,” said Hocking. “He did not want to build one large house in the centre of the lothe wanted buildings that engaged with various natural features on the site.
“The owner had spent time at Coral Beach in the past and liked the way the roofs of the different cottages framed the views to the ocean. The design started from there.”
With Coral Beach in mind, the team designed separate buildings for the living spaces, bedrooms and guest cottage, all interconnected by graceful paths through the undulating landscape. The main living area, nicknamed the clubhouse, is accessed through a trellised pathway from the entrance. “Various early developments of the project had covered connections between the cottages,” explained Hocking. “As the project evolved these were removed but we retained the main entrance trellis as an interesting way to first experience the property. The vine is to grow and cover the trellis creating a tunnel to the clubhouse door. From there the property explodes into expansive views of the south shore.”
Encompassing the kitchen, main dining room and a sitting area with two glass walls, the clubhouse faces west and features one showstopper of a wall designed to appreciate that view—35 feet of glass that disappears into the floor when open to the expansive porch area outside.
“The owners built the house to entertain friends and family, and when they are at the property, the clubhouse was designed as the space that everyone gravitates towards during the day,” said Hocking. “Because the entire wall of 35 feet disappears into the ground, this room becomes an extension of the porch and connects to the garden and the surrounding cottages.
“The owner wanted the different parts of the house to have a strong connection to the landscape. We wanted a seamless transition from interior to exterior space and we looked at many different door options that would provide large enough openings to create the connection we were seeking. Glass walls that disappear into the floor were initially introduced jokingly, but the idea had merits. We found a company—Hirt who worked through Tischler—that had made something similar before and worked with them to completely develop the system that is installed at Spindrift.”
Following the path down towards the shoreline one finds the primary suite. With walls of glass facing south, the suite features a sparsely decorated primary bedroom, sitting area and small kitchenette, along with an indoor and outdoor bath area. With its white, cream and light wood colour palette, the suites subtle textures and natural materials allow the exterior landscape and views to be the focal point of each room. The primary bedroom looks down into a natural gorge on the ocean side, said Hocking. It was the natural features of the coastline that attracted the owners to the property to begin with.
On the northern side of the sitting room is a Zen garden with a trickling water feature. The walls are designed to open on either side to take advantage of, or shelter from, the prevailing winds, as desired.
Further up the hill are the guest cottage and the second bedroom suite, connected by a trellised outdoor sitting area and fire pit. Above the guest cottage is a covered roof deck with enviable 360-degree views of Castle Harbour and the south shore. Overlooking the landscape and pitched roofs of the primary bedroom and through to the ocean beyond, the second bedroom suite features a bedroom and sitting room with smaller versions of the same raised glass walls as the clubhouse, as well as a generous bathroom discreetly hidden in the middle.
The fifth cottage on the property belongs to the caretaker and was designed to be the first stop for unexpected visitors to the property. “Part of the programme requirement was that the caretakers house be positioned to conveniently deal with the day-to-day running of the property,” said Hocking. “Its location and surrounding dense planting also form a natural threshold into the rest of the property. If you are an expected guest you likely know where to go. If not, you are drawn towards the caretaker’s cottage which affords additional privacy for the owner.”
While the property is vast and the cottages are numerous, the scale of the entire development is not what you would expect to find in the famous neighbourhood in which the house is located. “We started the project with the goal of keeping the buildings to a more modest scale and proportion than is typical for Tuckers Town,” Hocking said. “We wanted the form to be that of a more traditional Bermudian house which meant that the eve needed to be low and to mimic that built on a wooden wall plate. But of course, this brought on several challenges—a major one of which was solved with the use of stainless steel. One of the openings is nearly 50 feet and we could not span that with lumber so we used marine grade stainless steel because of the exposed location. The slender stainless steel deflected too much and did not meet the tolerances required for the raising windows, so we worked with Entech and devised some quite complicated concrete structures to reduce the spans and stiffen the beam.
“Eventually stainless steel became a logical theme throughout the structural elements on the cottages and we used it in place of wood for all exposed beams and columns.”
Spindrift’s landscaping was as carefully designed as the cottages themselves. “Wirtz International was the landscape consultant on the project and they worked with us to create the relationship between the landscape and the buildings,” explained Hocking. “They developed the initial landscape scheme and then Bob Duffy (of Landscape Consultants Ltd.) used his local knowledge to determine what plants would survive on the exposed site and coordinated their installation.”
Hocking also cited other contractors for their exceptional work on this award-winning project. “Some of the things that were going on behind the scenes are not typical of residential design in Bermuda,” he said. “Steven Whitecross was the drafting technician on the project and he played a critical role in ensuring that all of the different elements would work when they came together. Some of the biggest challenges came with the design of the raising windows, to achieve the hurricane and impact standard that the owner was adamant should be met. We worked with Bermuda Project Managers Ltd. (BPML) and Tischler and Son, the window supplier, to develop a unique product for this project. BPML played a critical role in both project development and management during the construction process. The project would not have achieved its level of perfection without their input. Similarly, Greymane Construction put together a skilled team of subcontractors and executed the project to the highest standards.”
Personally, Hocking is proud of some of the smaller items he designed for the project including the concealed security lights in the mouldings on the chimneys and self-latching doorstops that release when pressed with your foot.
Our judges were most impressed with his incredible detailing throughout the project, such as the perfectly aligned tiles in the clubhouse. “It was important that all of the tile joints aligned perfectly in all directions, floors and walls, so each tile had to be individually cut,” explained Hocking. “In the clubhouse the floors are large stone slabs, each intentionally randomly sized to create a pattern. The tilers at Eminence did an excellent job here.”
The excellence all around was appreciated by our judging team. One judge noted that “high design was followed through to the nth degree on absolutely everything,” and another commented,” In terms of technical excellence, the detailing is exceptional.”
A project like this is a dream job for any firm, and certainly a substantial feather in the proverbial cap for CTX.