Text description provided by the architects. Harmonized on the edge of the tidal salt marsh of Bohicket Creek on Johns Island, a house was built for a young family. As a builder and an architect couple on a tight budget constraint, every decision had to be made out of utility. Raw, simple construction methods were used with materials that are made to last and withstand the harsh conditions of the coastal south. The clients were able to find loads of inspiration all around them in the utility structures of boat docks and agricultural structures on Johns Island.
Situated in the microclimate just off the critical line of the marsh edge on Bohicket Creek there is good access to breezes and shade provided by the tree canopy. A single room depth was chosen as a strategy to pull cross-ventilation through the building and enhanced with the Venturi effect by providing small openings on the leeward side and large on the windward side. With the long axis slightly off east-west, the harsh sun in the south-southwest is set to the short side, decreasing heat gain. The southern side and roof are clad with galvanized steel, a low emittance material, further lowering heat absorption.
The form of the house floats above the forest floor to allow natural drainage patterns and ecology to be left minimally disturbed. A linear live oak grove divides the property longitudinally, and the thin house form was woven between two trees not to disrupt the grove. Even dead trees were saved in the construction process, providing sculpted views and rich habitat for wildlife. Twenty-nine piles mark the place on the land, totaling to a physical impact of only about sixty square feet.
The linear form divides the subtle transition between the marsh habitat and forest. This dichotomy is heightened through single room interiors which provide views to the marsh and the forest in every room. A small and efficient floor plan divides the house into two with kids on one side, parents on the other with a central indoor-outdoor gathering space. The house is solar adaptable and is designed to meet net-zero with the use of natural ventilation, natural daylighting, and a highly insulated envelope.
The wood rain-screen is a sustainably forested pine with a short growth cycle. The pine is infused with a bio-based liquid that changes the cells within the wood giving it the performance properties of premium hardwood, resistant to rot and pests, with increased hardness and dimensional stability. Left untreated, the wood will develop a silvery sheen further blending the home into the natural surroundings.
The house is sited for NASA’s predicted sea-level rise of about three feet in one hundred years. Timber piles were used to resist liquefaction in the event of an earthquake and to provide minimal impact to the ecology. Bohicket house provides an integrated design that provides a natural solitude for a young family and works for the complex needs of the marsh front in the low country.