NEWS Sustainability

New architectural platform embraces off-site construction to deliver new homes in the Caribbean

Hilson Moran, in partnership with Zaha Hadid Architects and AKT II, has developed an innovative digital architectural platform to create homes for Roatán Próspera in the Caribbean, the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras. The residential designs are an ecological and social response to the unique climate, terrain and culture of the island.

Crucial to developing the platform was a comprehensive understanding of the local supply chain, logistics and construction techniques. This importantly promoted the use of local materials, craftsmanship and manufacturing facilities, in turn supporting the local economy.

The design is based on a modular system that uses sustainable timber, sourced nearby from certified forests, to form the main structural elements. It fully embraces the benefits of off-site construction, reducing the carbon footprint of the development, while at the same time providing cost control and enhanced quality due to the precision achieved in a factory.

Hilson Moran developed the design’s passive environmental control and water cycle strategies to minimise energy consumption by reducing temperatures to improve thermal comfort, with little requirements for mechanical cooling. Dynamic thermal modelling was used to validate user comfort and energy consumption parameters.

Optimising renewable resources to reduce energy consumption and generate water, the modules are designed to be self-shading, open and oriented towards the prevailing sea breeze for natural cooling. Local, natural materials and ground coupling provide further cooling to interior spaces. When required, water is removed from the atmosphere for supplementary cooling by dehumidification. This water is also harvested and filtered for use in each home.

For self-sufficiency and net zero carbon performance, shading canopies are optimally shaped to accommodate optional photovoltaic arrays for renewable power generation. Batteries can also be accommodated to store the renewable electricity for later use.

Opportunities for pre-assembly to improve speed of construction, time on site and quality have also been a major consideration. Integrated services and insulation will be pre-assembled and installed within the structural system, which provides a building envelope with enhanced thermal and acoustic performance. The configuration ensures adjacent units have consistent service locations to minimise on-site connection locations.

Through a modular approach, with all the advantages of digital technology, the design is optimised and residents can create and bespoke their future homes, engaging with local suppliers throughout the process.

Marie-Louise Schembri, Design Director at Hilson Moran said: “We are proud to have supported the growth of this pioneering new platform. Through intricate design detail and engineering skill we are ensuring that home management solutions integrated into this new tool will cater for the future residents of Roatán for years to come.”

Roatán Próspera is a new economic development hub on the north bay of the Honduran island of Roatán. This newly formed hub will enable businesses from around the world to cultivate new opportunities in major Honduran sectors such as education, healthcare and tourism. This will in turn help to diversify Roatán’s offering to the wider Caribbean economy, help develop job skills and attract foreign investment.

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