Photography Toni Inniss 

“WHEN FACING A PROBLEM AS LARGE AS GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE, IT IS EASY TO GET OVERWHELMED AND FEEL LIKE YOUR ACTIONS DON’T MATTER. START SMALL, TAKE A REUSABLE BAG TO THE STORE, START RECYCLING, PLANT A LITTLE KITCHEN GARDEN, TURN THE LIGHT OFF WHEN YOU LEAVE A ROOM… THAT’S HOW I STARTED AND THIS IS WHERE THESE SMALL STEPS HAVE LED ME.” Fraser Young

Ever let your imagination freely fly into a future life and conjure up your ideal home? If you are a day dreamer you could probably create a fantasy dwelling space that’s out of this world, but if you are a designer with a plan, strong motivation and a capacity to turn a dream into actuality you might produce a real and fully sustainable dream home like Sugarwater.

Fraser Young is a young designer and business man with a background in the offshore sector, an entrepreneur and eco-warrior. It is this combination of facets that has obviously influenced the production of the much talked about new house on the block. The ‘block’ being Apes Hill located inland on the west coast of the island in St James, Barbados’ newest and most prestigious gated community.

The ‘talk’ is that Sugarwater is “Net Zero” living, fully sustainable and that it has been constructed out of recycled, reclaimed and reinvented materials. One wonders if it is one of those whacko pep bottle and tyre type houses and what is it doing in such a place as this. So on the meandering drive up through this carefully cultivated landscape you may be expecting something wooden and green with a roof full of solar panels or some such stereotype idea of eco living. Look again…on a downward slope at the edge of a small gully a clean grey tiled roof peeks out from behind high walls. Electric gates slide open to reveal a cool crème coral stone exterior which doesn’t immediately disclose the grand scale of this thoroughly modern building or all the elements of sustainability and explicit, purposeful design. Who was the Architect? Who built it?, one asks; the answer is Jeremy Gunn, Architect and Sigma Construction Inc.

Back to the designer – Fraser – make a note of his name because he is undoubtedly a pioneer here attempting to carve a path and change the future of design, construction and life-style in Barbados. With the construction of Sugarwater Fraser has made visible his revolutionary ideas and high ideals of sustainable, ‘green’ living, demonstrating these as possible with the utmost of style, taste and contemporary chic. Every feature has been meticulously planned and researched and materials carefully sourced from companies committed to ethical green practices. The structure is flawless, unfussy, clean, and practical and every facet is designed with the intention to be energy efficient and sustainable.

The cobblestone walkway at front is created by The Old Brick Factory, a local company manufacturing ballast bricks using molds of the originals and reused concrete and sand. Walk over the yellow brick road and enter a magical future kingdom that looks wide, spacious and larger than life. The immediate awareness is of spaciousness… a high vaulted ceiling and the outdoors merging into indoors, an effect achieved simply because there are no walls! Its absolutely brilliant…Remote controlled roller shutters can at the touch of a button, enclose the open plan kitchen and living room area or open it up and invite the sky and the trees in.

The supersized, butcher’s block island is made of reclaimed local red mahogany wood and divides the kitchen and living areas, this is illuminated by huge industrial light fixtures… the lights throughout the house are LED. It is the ideal kitchen with high-end industrial appliances and the fridge, wine cooler and cupboards fitting flush in a seamless finish. A huge mirror with a frame of natural driftwood, designed by Interior Decorator, Nicola Atwell of Bella Casa was built by Darrin Rapson of Tropical Furnishings who created many of the wooden furnishings here. Gaze out onto the saline infinity pool, a massive water feature stretching along the length of the house from one end by the dining area to the master bedroom from where, the romantic hand-made 4 poster mahogany bed, one can take two steps into the non-chlorinated water for an early morning dip. 

Nearly every element of the house is an environmentally conscious creation making a purposeful statement. The wide, oversized jalousie windows are made of eucalyptus wood which is a natural repellant to insects. The tiles throughout the house are made of reconstructed old porcelain tiles, ground and reinvented to create a whole new slab effect and available locally at Tile Gallery. The roof’s girders are built to last, made from recycled imported steel they can withstand a grade 3 hurricane and are also termite resistant. Glass walled showers in the shiny tiled bathrooms are inviting but the outdoor tub surely captures the imagination… bubbles under a moonlit night sky, oh my…the dream weaver has certainly cast a sweet spell!

Yet still not forgetting the practical sustainable aspect - the toilets are flushed with water captured by a powder coated, seamless aluminum guttering which runs around the perimeter of the roof and collects rain water in a 30,000 gallon underground catchment. This can provide all the water requirements for toilets, shower, laundry, orchard and garden. All paint used was no VOC and supplied by Eco-Breeze.

Oh the garden! Fraser admits the garden or ‘edible landscape’ is his favorite feature. This garden is more than just a pretty place, purely decorative gardens may well become a thing of the past. Utilizing green space productively and economically while still being pleasing to the eye are constant key factors. A variety of organic foods - pumpkins, zucchini, kale, beans, tomatoes etc even pineapples and strawberries grow abundantly in rich organic soil and would greatly reduce the house dweller’s grocery bill. An orchard of fruit trees in the gully alongside is still in planning stage. This is sustainability in action and Fraser’s other passion, organic farming, which he sees as a way forward not only for individual home owners but for Barbados as a whole.

We also can’t overlook the solar voltaic panels which are ground mounted to conform with the community design restrictions in a discreet designated area in the yard providing nearly all the household’s power requirements…hence the term “Net Zero” which means practically no utility bills for the rest of your life! Fraser says “I have worked with over 25 local companies to create my living examples of sustainability. They have all embraced the education and ideas that I have brought to them, seen the opportunity and in turn started to grow their businesses. I have worked to create a network of individual companies whose services both support and compliment each other”.

The fabulous Sugarwater is more than just a beautiful fantasy… it is a practical cost and energy efficient, low maintenance, high functional, investment in the future and a fine example of the possibility of sustainable living in Barbados. Sugarwater is for Sale. For details call Fraser Young on 233-4917, Eco Structure Barbados

Ecostructurebb@gmail.com

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