Dezeen Magazine

Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects

Hurricanes inform design of coastal home in Puerto Rico by Fuster + Architects

White concrete walls and chimneys feature in this seaside residence that was designed by Fuster + Architects to be able to endure tropical storms.

Casa Flores is located in a suburban area in Naguabo, a fishing town along the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico. The weekend dwelling sits on a grassy knoll that slopes down toward the Caribbean Sea.

Exterior view of Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects
Casa Flores sits atop a grassy knoll

Fuster + Architects, which is based in San Juan, had several guiding concerns for the project.

For starters, the house needed to be able to withstand tropical storms, particularly given the devastation that Hurricane Maria brought to the area in 2017. Casa Flores is actually located near the point where the deadly hurricane made landfall in Puerto Rico.

White house with chimneys in Puerto Rico
White chimney skylights provide ventilation

The architects also aimed to create an energy-efficient dwelling that offered a strong visual connection to the ocean.

In response, the firm conceived an austere, single-level home that is slightly sunk into the ground. Rising up from a flat roof are eight "hot air chimneys" that provide natural light and ventilation.

Chimneys of Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects
The house is built to withstand hurricanes

The protruding volumes, which double as skylights, are arranged so their openings face away from prevailing winds. This creates a "suctioning effect that continuously circulates air, while illuminating the interior spaces", the firm said.

Rectangular in plan, the all-white house features a frontal facade that appears opaque from the street. The dwelling opens up in the rear, where large stretches of glass provide sweeping views of the sea.

Views of the Caribbean Sea from Casa Flores
The back of the house has views of the Caribbean Sea

To help protect the home from storm damage, apertures are covered with exterior shades made of a canvas-like material that is hurricane resistant.

The sturdy shades allow daylight to pass into the residence, and their light colour enables them to blend with the home's white facades.

Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects
Canvas hurricane shutters are part of the design

Hurricane shutters are typically an unwelcome building accessory, the firm said. In this case, however, they serve as "an integral part of the main architectural expression".

"In some way when they are closed, they resemble the work of the artist Christo in the manner that they completely enclose and define spaces and forms," the architects said.

Nighttime exterior of concrete Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects
The house is designed to stay cool in hot weather

To construct the house, the team used an insulated concrete system with a high R-value, which helps ensure the building stays cool inside. Walls are sheathed in a "structural mortar" that provides further insulation.

"In the tropical environment of Puerto Rico, most concrete structures are not insulated and therefore allow the extreme heat to pass through," the firm said.

"The floor of the house, finished in polished exposed concrete, is the only structural element without insulation since is not needed in this climate."

Pool of Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects
A triangular pool is sunk into the terrace

Encompassing 270 square meters, the house contains a master suite, two bedrooms, and an open-plan cooking, dining and living area. Interior spaces appear to have an aesthetic that matches the home's exterior.

East-facing rooms flow onto a covered terrace that is supported by slender steel columns. Beyond the terrace is a wooden deck lined with a slatted railing.

Swimming pool of Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects
The pool has ocean views

Built into a triangular corner of the deck is a small pool that connects the home's interior to "the long views to the horizon and the ocean".

"The house's compact layout feels spacious in part because it opens up to a terrace that celebrates outdoor living, and links the house to the exterior," the team said.

Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects
The hurricane shutters pull back to open the sheltered porch

Totalling 9,100 square kilometres, the US territory of Puerto Rico is known for its mountains, beaches and tropical forests.

Recent projects there include the transformation of a hurricane-ravaged, century-old residence into a luxury holiday home designed by the New York studio Champalimaud.

Photography is by Jaime Navarro.

Project credits: 

Architect: Fuster + Architects
Architecture team: Nataniel Fúster, Heather Crichfield, Luis R. Albaladejo, José Pagán
Structure: José Green
Mechanical: Rafael Parés
Construction: Taller 34, Redcon Construction
Client: Carlos Flores

More images and plans

Plans for Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects
Floor plan
Plans for Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects
Roof plan
Plans for Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects
Plans for Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects
Plans for Casa Flores by Fuster + Architects