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Higel House

RESIDENTIAL: Siesta Key, Florida

The Higel House took shape from a request for a simple, energy efficient, contemporary beach house. Between a flood zone requiring an elevated structure and the site’s location adjacent to a busy intersection on Siesta Key, the challenge to create a private, laid back environment was immense. Striking a balance between solid and void was paramount to achieving a light, airy, spatial quality.

A careful eye was given to proportions. Bringing the landscape up to meet the entry stair keeps the structure grounded despite its elevation, raising the window sills at the second floor compresses its height, and utilizing a SIPS roofing system allowed for a crisp, thin edge against the sky. Not only an aesthetic choice, the SIPS roof provides substantial shading to the expansive glazing, insulation integral within its structure, as well as the perfect platform for a large solar array and roof deck that affords views of Roberts Bay and Big Sarasota Pass. Early on, all agreed that honesty in materials was the goal. However, applying that strategy to the overarching concept of a contemporary beach shack felt at odds with local structural and safety regulations. This dichotomy, coupled with a modern take on traditional post and beam construction, lead to the soaring, exposed concrete framework that supports the shiplap clad roof.

Other materials were chosen with the intent of opening up the house and taking advantage of the prevailing cross breeze. Florida coral stone, terrazzo tile, and pickled white oak form a palette that seamlessly blends interior and exterior space, and in the case of the coral stone, creates a volumetric contrast with the stucco surfaces. The resulting structure sits gently on the land, purposefully held back from the property edges to allow the landscape to envelope the architecture.