by Anmol AhujaMay 23, 2022
The Dune House sits embedded in the sandy dunes of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, United States, with the soft green landscape as its blanket. The conceptual work has been imagined by Studio Vural, a boutique architecture firm in Brooklyn, which is led by principal architect Selim Vural. The autonomous ‘off-the-grid’ Dune House hosts two storeys, its form cleaved clean in the middle, and carved into the sand dunes. The beachside holiday house presents an eco-friendly, hyper sustainable design as it can produce its own energy, with the help of solar panels and mini wind turbines.
What is ‘off-the-grid’ living?
‘Off-the-grid’ living is a typology of buildings and lifestyle designed to flourish without relying on the traditional electrical grid that supplies energy for utilities such as water, gas and lighting. This type of living allows for buildings and its inhabitants to become self-sufficient, as they are able to supply energy on their own, reducing dependence on fuels, which ultimately leads to a cleaner, healthier environment, and a significantly reduced cost of living.
A New York City real estate developer commissioned Studio Vural for the project, to build a holiday house on the beach. Vural knew the location well as he has been vacationing there for the last seven years. He studied the place’s terrain, climate and vegetation thoroughly, which led to the conception of the Dune House. Vural was inspired by a ‘squid’s rainbow flash at a nighttime fishing expedition’ - the colourful flash in the dark made Vural think – “if squids can power themselves, so can architecture”.
Scheduled to start construction later this year, the Dune House will have a fully autonomous power system, which will be realised through geothermal technology, paired with an expansive power field implanted with self-storing solar panels and miniature wind turbines connected to a zinc-oxide battery system. Studio Vural shares that this system is designed to produce clean fuel, and will produce more energy than the house actually needs.
Immersed, not imposed
The Dune House is burrowed in the earth to harvest geothermal temperatures with the help of deep steel piles. Around 80 per cent of its skin is draped with earth and landscape, presenting a next generation model of hyper-sustainable houses. According to Vural, these strategies “must be aggressively pursued to turn the tables on climate change”.
The Dune House will also put into practice, research on eco-friendly, absorbent building materials such as walls made of fly-ash, and native vegetation that will drape the building, all of which will act as sponges to absorb carbon mass. The form of the house respects the habitats of the local flora and fauna, as it blends effortlessly with nature – the Dune House is recognisable from the sea, while the shoreline remains intact - ‘immersed not imposed’.
Described by Vural as ‘subtractive architecture’, the form of the residence is a sphere split in two volumes, connected by an open corridor, resembling two rising sand dunes. The interiors display vast open spaces rendered in white, polished floors of concrete, with meek furniture and blue clay tiles. The open corridor will be made of planks of porcelain, while bamboo will be used in the paneling and cabin work. The geometric windows are made from triple insulated glass set within metal frames, and are designed to be resistant to storms, while displaying impressive views to the sea and inviting generous sunlight into the dwelling.
A supply of fresh drinking water will be ensured through a rainwater collection and storage system. The water taps, sinks and showers would employ filtered groundwater, adding on to the sustainable design of the house. The anchoring sand piles comprise conductive fluid piping, which ensure that the house remains cool in summertime, and warm during winters.
Studio Vural describes, “In the Dune House, human, bird, energy and earth blend as an inseparable whole as technology finally makes peace with nature. There are no machines but humming electrical devices that power, heat, cool and vent. There is no chemical waste, trash or fuel. The only carbon emission is the dinner table candles.” If executed as envisioned, Studio Vural’s Dune House could become an influential prototype for future residential architecture as we know it.
Name: Dune House
Location: Cape Cod, Massachusetts, United States
Architect: Studio Vural
Project team: Selim Vural - principal, Sumeyye Ozturk - Angela Tasveska - junior architects
Renderings: Dom Wipas