Beachitecture: The Art and Science of Relaxing with a Beer

July 9, 2016

In places where climate zones are irrelevant, form follows function, and the function includes kicking back

Where I used to live, in the Midwestern United States, folks often had one room with rattan furniture, shells, and tiki lights to remind them of far-off paradises on warm sandy shores.

I secretly loved these rooms, because gray, Midwestern winters last so long and the cold penetrates the bones. You need a reminder that the whole world has not plunged into permanent gloom. That there do exist other places where the sun still shines.

In the Midwest, psychological utility aside, these Tommy Bahama rooms look cheesy and out of place. Not so in the tropics.

Now safe from winter, working on the coast of Ecuador, whenever my wife and I have a day off we head from the coast, where we work, to … well, just a little further down the coast to our friend's bed and breakfast, Villa de Los Sueños, (literally, dream town).

Shell and Marsha moved to Ecuador from the Midwest and bought a beachfront home they turned into a small hotel. We stay in the penthouse, four stories over the shore. We go nowhere else while there.

It’s so pretty, why bother? We do take walks on the beach, but mostly rest in the penthouse, all the windows and doors wide open, the sound of powerful waves pounding, the gentle breeze.

I lie starring up at the caña guadua rafters.

Beachitecture, or beachy-architecture is totally appropriate here, and even elegant. Beyond the rattan furnishings, the structure itself engages the eye. Notice the underside of the roof tile.

No sheathing. No felt. And during monsoon rains, no leaks. The fish-mouth, or compound miters with coping, cut with a combination of chain saw and coped with a hole saw.    

The millwork is cut and built from local teak forests. The cabinet boxes are made with concrete block, not wood. The windows and doors open from end to end, with no concern for climate zone, low-e glazing, insulation, or airsealing.

That alone helps me to relax.

I’ve spent so much of my life stressing about thermal bridging and the conundrum between closed and open cell foam insulation.

Take it easy. No need to build it tight or to vent it right. Put your feet up, and have a beer.  

— Fernando Pagés Ruiz is ProTradeCraft's Latin America Editor. He is currently building a business in Ecuador and a house in Mexico. Formerly, he was a builder in the Great Plains and mountain states. He is the author of Building an Affordable House and Affordable Remodel (Taunton Press).


apropiate at the beach.jpg
Relaxed under a canopy of exposed cane rafters.jpg
 Hollows for wires and pipes and it bends.jpg
you have to cap the ends.jpg
5- Even the braces have grace.jpg
The joints must be cut angled and coped.jpg
Lovely tones require no stain.jpg
No climate zone issues and lots of windows.jpg
The rafter ends blocked and sealed with morter.jpg
And the interior woodwork with cheap and abundant teak.jpg
becasue the best part is the view.jpg