A little paradise separated from the Atlantic Ocean by old mangroves and sandy dunes
OBJEKT USA-CANADA met the architect Clemens Schaub in one of his creations, at Windsor in Vero Beach, Florida. “Building on the coast is like building a boat: You have to pay great attention to details because otherwise, nature will take over in time.
Clemens Schaub: “The key value of my architectural work in the tropics is to integrate exterior and interior. The ﬁrst thing I always do is to look for the best place for the garden and build a house around it. I let the prevailing winds and the movement of the sun over the site guide me. Here in Florida, in this climate, we use a house in a speciﬁc way. In the winter we get cool breezes from the north; if you use the house as a buffer against it, you can create a microclimate in the house and in the garden. In the summer we collect the lovely breezes from the ocean. They work seamlessly, the sun and the wind.”
Where the Tropics dictate the mood
Schaub has a tropical, relaxed attitude talking about his architecture. But when it comes to getting down to getting the work done, every base is covered, from the design philosophy to the very last detail.
“Tropical architecture drives you to a one-room deep concept to secure cross ventilation and light. These are key features in the overall approach. I have always been keen to look at what has worked in the past. I’ve tried to fuse these elements into a design that is more of our times. I’ve learned that some traditional tropical architecture still works today. So why should we get rid of it? You get to know what works and what doesn’t, including colours. Nowadays we want our houses to have more natural light and we have technical systems that can give more comfort to our interiors.”
He is fascinated by the layering of a house in the classic Italian way in which a structure slowly reveals itself. Creating lines that bring you from one place to the other. How a house and its character create memories. Schaub’s goal is to soften the architecture and make it more human. “The human scale, the way that people ﬁt into a space, that is important to me. You see so many houses where people come into the living room with the comment, ‘How lovely’, and then go directly to the kitchen because it is much cosier there. I believe in making every room to the right scale, so as to feel comfortable.
“To integrate the inside and outside, I start from the outside. First, you have to make the choice of the best place for the garden. How should everything be organized around it? What are the views and where does the wind come from? In the tropics, you try to keep the house cool with an optimum air-ﬂow.”
The Schaub Process
After an intensive process where he gets to know the clients and their needs, he starts designing.
“In this particular project, it has resulted in a large central gathering space, without hallways. All living quarters have their own entrance arranged around the garden. Yes, the classic tropical way; with the emphasis on outdoor life. It is all about encouraging the use of outdoor spaces instead of the indoor ones. The way to do that is to make it comfortable outside.”
The house is shaped in a wide u-form. The main entrance features a gate that opens up into the garden, and the different parts of the house are all connected with a columns gallery. On the ocean side is the main house. Downstairs it has a large living room and the kitchen; upstairs, the master bedroom and bathroom.
Towards the entrance are six guest rooms and the gym. Tall palm trees guarantee shade in the garden and over the pool area. And on the other side of the main house, there is the ocean and the sounds of the sea. A place to enjoy.