Zaha Hadid Architects with AKT II and Hilson Moran have developed a digital architectural platform to create homes for Roatán Próspera, a project located in Honduras’ Roatán islands. The residential designs are a specific ecological and social response to the climate, terrain and culture of Roatán in the Caribbean, the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras.
The designs learn from the wisdom of the past, integrating the local vernacular tradition of timber construction, climatic appropriateness and spatial experience with new digital design, engineering and construction techniques.
Working with AKT II, the design approach starts from a comprehensive understanding of the local supply chain, logistics and construction techniques to promote the use of local materials, craftsmanship and manufacturing facilities which support the economy of the region.
The design’s modular system is founded on the use of sustainable timber, sourced nearby from certified forests on the Honduran mainland and treated locally, to form the main structural elements. Digital information technologies will optimize the use of all parts of the sustainably-forested logs to minimize waste and pollution. This process also contributes to reducing the embedded construction energy and carbon footprint of the development.
With considerable reductions in waste material, and a higher quality of construction due to the greater precision achieved by off-site fabrication, this modular system of assembly is a cost-controlled solution specifically tailored to local supply chains, transportation and installation.
The dimensions of the structure’s base timber units have been established to follow the constraints of the local transportation networks to ensure carbon emissions and logistics costs are minimized. 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 giving maximum protection to the site’s native flora and fauna.
Divided into a ‘kit of parts’ that is quickly assembled on site, the design approach is centered around ensuring local craftsmen, tradesmen and construction teams also benefit from the knowledge and experience obtained by working with new technologies; building lasting relationships between homeowners and the local community that will help new residents to integrate with local culture. All suppliers will be given full assistance to develop their product lines to the 3D digital information model of the houses and the terrain.
Hilson Moran developed the design’s passive environmental control and water cycle strategies to minimize energy consumption by reducing temperatures to improve thermal comfort, with little or no requirements for mechanical ventilation. Dynamic thermal modelling was used to validate user comfort and energy consumption parameters.
Optimizing renewable resources to reduce energy consumption and generate water, the modules are designed to be self-shading, open and oriented towards the prevailing sea breeze for natural cooling. Local, natural materials and ground coupling provide further cooling to interior spaces. When required, water is removed from the atmosphere for supplementary cooling by dehumidification. This water is harvested and filtered and available for use in each home.
For self-sufficient and net-zero carbon operations, shading canopies are optimally shaped to accommodate photovoltaic arrays for renewable power generation. Batteries will store renewable electricity for future use.
Particular care has been given to ensuring the designs are sustainable and feasible within the environment of Roatan; incorporating vernacular design features such as palapas and other naturally ventilated spaces, the use of locally sourced timber, passive shading, rainwater collection, and cooling-pools.