Gator House Pointe Coupee real estate, Louisiana home design, USA residence renovation, American architecture photos

Gator House in Pointe Coupee

July 6, 2022

Design: emerymcclure architecture

Location: Ventress, Louisiana, United States

Gator House Ventress Louisiana

Photos by James Osborne IV

Gator House, Louisiana Home

Historically, buildings in southern Louisiana were forced to employ every manner of passive systems to mediate their physical environment to the greatest extent possible. In the modern era, most buildings in this wet, hot, humid, and often volatile climate seek to resist the extreme conditions by creating a presumed impenetrable barrier. The Gator House resists the false choices of historical vs. modern, man vs. nature, active vs. passive, and celebrates the complex interaction of the built, natural, and cultural systems of southern Louisiana.

Gator House Ventress LA

The Gator house is a camp, a southern Louisiana vacation home.  Traditionally, the camp typology functioned as a hunting and fishing retreat; minimal, low energy, a little rough, and occupied episodically according to season. Once a rustic shed for storing fishing and hunting gear, it has become a coveted gathering place for families and friends to enjoy the outdoors – camps are part fish cleaning station, part summer home. 

Gator House Ventress LA

There is no distinct camp typology, though historically, they took the form of hybrid traditional typologies: dogtrots, shotguns, creole cottages.  They commonly privilege the liminal and public spaces; porches, patios, decks.

Gator House Ventress Louisiana

Gator House takes these spatial and organizational cues while allowing the siting and form to emerge from its extreme environmental conditions.  It enables social, cultural functionality while celebrating the need to commune with its subtropical environment.  Passive strategies are required; durability and water resistance are critical.

Gator House Ventress LA

It is sited on a ‘false river,’ an oxbow lake left behind when the Mississippi River jumped and snaked across the delta forming Southern Louisiana.  The lake is infrastructurally controlled, and therefore predictably fluctuating. 

Gator House Ventress LA

First, GATOR house is raised 4’ to 8’ above the 500-year flood stage to mitigate inundation. It is also constructed with low-maintenance materials that resist water, rot, and insects to withstand the humid conditions and allow the owners to spray off their camp with a hose. Nine metal roll-up doors provide flexible enclosure and protect the camp in extreme weather and while owners are away.

Gator House Ventress LA

Gator House’s communion with the natural environment is more than just material. It is social and spatial, with almost all social gathering occurring in the liminal exterior spaces.  A dogtrot porch, side gallery porch, and screened back porch are the primary living spaces and occupy the majority of the square footage. They line the southern and western facades and engulf the minimal interior, conditioned rooms.

Gator House Ventress LA

Adjacent to the waterfront porch, stadium seats occupy the interstitial space between “outside” screened porch and “outside” on the waterfront, providing seating for gathering, barbecuing, and cleaning fish. The only spaces that are truly “inside” are the three sleeping rooms, master bath, and small kitchen. Using natural ventilation, industrial-grade fans, and deep shade, heat, humidity, and insects are mitigated to establish human comfort in an infamously uncomfortable environment.

Gator House Ventress Louisiana

To achieve the identity, both technical and phenomenal, of the GATOR House, we attempted to hybridize design strategies.  These hybridizations attempt a sustainable habitation both culturally and ecologically.  It refuses the either/or design strategy (tradition vs. modern, cultural vs. physical, natural vs. manmade).  The both/and approach results in the Gator House.

Gator House Ventress Louisiana

Gator House in Louisiana, USA – Property Information

Architects: emerymcclure architecture –
Project size: 1660 ft2
Project Budget: USD 221,000.00
Completion date: 2018
Building levels: 1

2019 ARDA Award for Custom Homes, American Institute of Building Design

Gator House Ventress Louisiana

Photography: James Osborne IV

Pecan House in Saint Gabriel, Louisiana Home images / information received 030722 from emerymcclure architecture

Location: Ventress, Louisiana, USA

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