Ocean Sundial | South Bethany - Delaware | 2022


Ocean Sundial | South Bethany - Delaware | 2022

Ocean Sundial | South Bethany - Delaware | 2022

Architects: Donald Lococo Architects LLC.
General Contractor: Shay Gallo Construction Inc.
Client: Bill Gallagher
Photographers: Campos Media OC, Christine Campos Studio HDP, Anice Hoachlander


Ocean Sundial | South Bethany - Delaware | 2022
Ocean Sundial | South Bethany - Delaware | 2022
Ocean Sundial | South Bethany - Delaware | 2022

Project Description

By maximizing panoramic ocean sunrise and sunset views to a singular communal area, and then dialing back solar gains by limiting solar exposure, a responsible solar heat gain is achieved. The form of this vacation home for a family of five is derived from state guidelines mandating a 25% roof slope.

However, instead of using a typical gable to address the roof slope, a sawtooth form is applied. This situates the peak of the saw tooth and the wide panoramic view of the family room rather than a triangular ocean view that would occur out of a gable end form. Sunrise ocean light pours into the street side foyer as one enters the front door on the first level. The yellow morning sun is a 'teaser' creating emotional momentum as one rises through the stairway. Views are experienced at each floor, but at the top level, sunlight and ocean air are captured like a whale’s mouth open for krill.

Expanses of glass and blowing cross breezes against one’s skin with views of both sunrise and sunset connect occupants to both nature and the time of day. Morning light keyholes through a diagonal shaft carved out of the home devised by arranging stair flights end to end. This invites light, warmth, and ocean energy into the innermost confines of the home. The axis of the shaft coincides with the summer solstice when the summer home is most used. At the east glass, the sunrise side, light enters through a single-story panel of glass. As the rays proceed through the home, the light flairs, and so too does the space: from one story upon the sun's entry, growing to two stories at the center, and at the opposite west shaft the stairway grows to three stories. A bridge on the third floor spans over the shaft. Instead of referencing local beach houses, fins reference a different ocean-built element: dune fencing, which is associated with saving the coastal environment by stabilizing dunes which foster plant and animal life. To reference this, the built form uses wire-brushed Shou Sugi Ban fins. The zigzagging fencing is referenced on the street side. The spacing is based on a mathematical sine curve mimicking a wave-like effect.

The base of the home is left open so that the actual referenced dune fencing at the back of the property is in full view under the home as one approaches the street side. Because increased view in turn leads to increased head gain, measures are taken to control direct sunlight to manage overall heat gain. First, direct sunlight on the east walls is limited by a screen porch with a roof and deep decks. This dials back direct sun exposure times on all first and second floor and the kitchen. Instead of direct noon sunlight in the kitchen, second, and first floor, it stops at 10:30, 10:00, and 9:30 respectively. On the south and west elevation, fins dial back solar exposure and gain further. On the south face non-view glazing is limited and on the few non-view remaining widows, fins shade window and glass door entry. Fins on the street-side decks and third-floor further limit sunlight to only diagonal winter sun.

The project's minimal, 1,090-square-foot footprint and elevated first floor allow 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 the home at open piers and to the back of the property line. The home is thus 100% permeable. Indigenous, self-seeding grasses are used. Wildlife is continuous under the raised home and the permeable site. 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 a smaller footprint than the 1950s home it replaced.