Ocean Sundial

Photo Credit © Anice Hoachlander

Donald Lococo Architects
South Bethany, DE
Project partners include Linton Engineering and Quality Window & Door

By maximizing ocean sunrise to the primary communal areas, and then dialing back solar gains, a responsible solar heat gain is achieved.

The form of this vacation home for a family of 5 is derived from state guidelines mandating a 25% roof slope. However, instead of employing the common gable to address the roof slope, a sawtooth form addresses the requirement. By situating the peak of the saw tooth at the view, a 16-foot high by 20-foot wide panoramic view is achieved, rather than the expected triangular ocean views which would result from a gable roof form.

Sunrise light pours into the otherwise dark street-side foyer because a light shaft directs light through the house from the top east oceanside windows. This keyhole of light is achieved by arranging stair flights end to end. The yellow morning sun creates emotional momentum as one rises through the stairway. Ocean views are experienced at each floor as one ascends. Decks at every level are added on the ocean side to encourage outdoor living and ocean air.

Beyond the shading the fins provide, they reference dune fencing which are associated with saving our coastal environment by stabilizing dunes. Wire-brushed Shou Sugi Ban fins are used to achieve this which is a natural material not needing paints or refinishing. The zigzagging fencing is referenced at street side. The spacing is based on a mathematical sine curve mimicking a wave-like effect. Wider spacing coincidences fenestration to increasing view. The base of the home is left open so that the actual referenced dune fencing at the back of the property are in full view under the home as one approaches the street side.

Because increased view, in turn, increases heat gain, measures are taken to control direct sunlight to manage the overall heat gain. First, direct sunlight time on the east walls is limited by a screen porch roof and deep decks. This reduces direct sun exposure times in all first and second floor rooms and the kitchen. Secondly, instead of noon, direct sunlight in kitchen, second and first floor stops at 10:30, 10:00 and 9:30 respectively so exposure time is less. Finally, on the south face non-view glazing is limited and on the few non view remaining windows, fins shade window and glass door entry Fins on the street-side decks and third floor further limit sunlight to only diagonal winter sun. Morning light is further managed by keyholing through a diagonal shaft of light created by arranging stair flights end to end. This invites light and warmth into the most center of the house rather than the surface This occurrence coincidences with summer solstice when the home is most used.

The project’s minimal, 1090 square-foot footprint and elevated first floor allows site drainage to continue to a pre-construction pattern. Parking at the street side of the property is pervious gravel and from the home’s front gravel, sand continues under home at open piers to the back of the property line. Indigenous self-seeding grasses are solely used on the property in front and back up to the property line’s dune fencing. Wildlife is continuous under the raised home and the site 100% permeable, including at the home’s footprint. Exterior stairs to the rear yard on the ocean side retract so that they are out of impact points during hurricanes where they could dislodge and fragment polluting the environment. All roof and deck runoff is drained onto the property and the new home also has less footprint than the 1950s home it had previously replaced.

Visit the Donald Lococo Architects website.

Published: 06/27/2024
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