Residence layout showing how all existing trees were saved

Minor excavation for pilings results in negative impacts on the land


Off the Grid Island

LocationBuck Island
CategoryOTG Residential


Our Solutions

From the lighthouse on Hilton Head island, South Carolina, USA, one can see the shape of a small island in the distance.  Buck Island, named by original Native Americans of the area, is isolated from the conveniences of mainland infrastructure; yet is easily accessed by boat and hosts a unique natural environment. The owners of this pristine private island retained architect, Paul Bierman-Lytle, and his design/build craftsmen, to create a self-sufficient retreat on the island. The design process included cataloguing all vegetation and animal species on the island. The home was built on stilts in order to avoid any removal of trees, to provide natural ventilation underneath the structure, as well as to protect the home from storm surge flooding. Each building material and technology was carefully selected to meet sustainability criteria for low carbon and ecological footprint, such as low maintenance, durability, inert, low-toxicity, positive life-cycle profile, renewable energy, water, and waste conservation, biosecurity, disaster preparedness, advanced ICT, and onsite eco-transportation. Utilizing ecologically engineering wastewater treatment allowed the home to conserve and reuse all water resources in multiple uses; the cooling and heating systems were powered by ground-sourced heat pumps; tree canopies were protected adding enormous natural cooling and wind buffers; electricity was generated by terra-formed fields of photovoltaic solar panels.  Solar electric golf carts and bicycles provide on-site transportation. Protected and camouflaged by the trees, the retreat spreads out around the native landscape like a tree house. Only the towering crow’s nest breaks through the canopy and permits 360-degree reconnaissance of the South Carolina coast and bay. The home has been featured in national magazines and on CNN.

Special Features:  Organic gardens and permaculture, Air Krete insulation made from seawater (fire proof, insect proof, High R-value, foamed to expand into all crevices; Eternit slate roofing tiles; Auro natural oils and paints (German); reclaimed and FSC-certified wood species; road surfaces made of crushed shells

SITE W SOLAR2 as Smart Object-1


Construction is entirely on piers above the natural landscape and the design conforms to existing trees. Images above demonstrate how the design is almost entirely covered by the existing ‘tree-scape’.

Cart-Red-CarbinSq SunSolarCart

PV solar powered onsite vehicles (carbonsolar.com; sunsolarcarts.com)


Solar-powered marine transportation (in the works)