Haus an der Düne – Sustainable architecture on the ocean without a supply network

Brooklyn-based architecture firm Studio Vural has designed a house on the dune that serves as an off-grid residence in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The project is located on a beach where a rare country vacation takes place every year. It was inspired by a rainbow squid during a nighttime expedition. The architect thought that if squid could drive itself, houses should too. For this reason, he brought the sustainable design of the building to the fore.

The house on the dune as a template for off-grid holidays

a house built on the dune with insulated glass windows sustainable design

The dune house has a design that blends seamlessly into nature and is only recognizable from the sea. It is therefore without a power plug and has an autonomous power grid. This is powered by a huge solar field and small wind turbines that produce clean energy. The architect thereby made energy efficiency possible by digging the house in by the dune. The foundation is therefore in the geothermal temperatures of the sand, which therefore covers 80% of the shell.

night sky over a house on the dune with wind turbine future project construction

Life outside the power grid, which was once reserved for only a few hippies, is now a sustainable idea that architects should take seriously. A New York real estate developer who wanted to build a personal vacation home on the beach commissioned Studio Vural for the project. The architect thus saw the opportunity to take a more radical path. This could produce an exciting design with alternative construction methods, as well as building materials and intelligent technology. So a house was built on the dune. This is a conceptual proposal for a two-story, autonomous, energy-efficient and self-sufficient apartment that is hidden in the sand dunes.

mini wind turbines and solar panels supply a house on the dune with energy and water

The dune house is what the architect Selim Vural calls the next generation of “hyper-sustainable houses”. According to him, the designers have to “aggressively pursue them in order to get a grip on climate change”. The concept also includes recent research into absorbent building materials and flooring technology on carbon mass. The pursuit of technology that brought him and his team here will play the main role. Tech-driven agriculture, soil technology, absorbent building materials and intelligent remote devices finally clean and connect people with the nature to which they belong.

Alternative approach to design

conceptual design in the interior with fly ash and minimalist furniture

The dune house relies on technology through intelligent heat recovery systems and automatic climate adjustment. For example, the piles of sand also contain conductive liquid lines that keep living spaces cool in summer and warm in winter. In theory, the house on the dune can produce more clean energy than it consumes. The concept also includes the use of native plants. Wedge-shaped windows that let in daylight and offer views of the water are weatherproof.

consistently with slats and native plants for the absorption of carbon on dune houses

Other environmentally friendly elements are a storage system for rainwater for the water supply. Sinks and showers therefore use filtered groundwater, of which there are plenty in the area. In the plan, the upper level of the dune house has the shape of an octagon. It consists of two wings connected by a central passage. On this top floor there is a kitchen and a dining area. A staircase leads down to the lower level, which is rectangular in plan. There the architect placed a number of bedrooms and a cave.

modern living room with bar counter and sofa with coffee table in the house on the dune

The house is anchored to the construction site via deep piles. The walls are made of fly ash concrete and large sections of triple-insulated glass embedded in metal frames. The surface of the path consists of boards that resemble wood, but are actually made of porcelain. The interior is furnished with white-painted concrete walls, polished concrete floors and blue clay tiles. The team also used bamboo for furniture and cladding. A solar panel and mini wind turbines are to generate electricity for the house on the dune. As a result, the house stores additional energy in oxidized zinc batteries that have progressive technology.

Construction despite criticism

floor plan house on the dune with two bedrooms energy-efficient architecture

The design has drawn a lot of criticism, including some from locals with neighboring properties. Nevertheless, the construction of the dune house started in 2020. However, this has taken many sustainability discussions to the next level. The house presents a solution that is not only 100% self-sufficient, but also leaves a positive footprint.

Upper level shown in the floor plan with two beds and kitchen next to the living room

Even if the actual feasibility is challenging both from a technical and an economic point of view, the project definitely leads in the right direction and combines a forward-looking vision with a captivating and futuristic design.

* Website of the architect

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