Smart and Sustainable building designs in Mauritius

Our Process

Our home designs have been conceived around the "maximize passive, minimize active" hybrid design approach. This allows us to harness maximum natural resources available at your site. For instance, we utilize daylight to illuminate your interior spaces without causing undue overheating. We also promote natural ventilation to achieve proper indoor air quality, both contributing to a healthy and thriving home environment.

The use of effective passive home design lies at the heart of our solutions, which when combined with intelligent controls contributes to high performing homes. The passive design measures are integrated with aesthetics to produce a unique blend of elegance and performance, which is the very essence of sustainability for us.

Our goal for any design is to achieve net zero energy. We start with that in mind and consult with our clients to understand their needs on a fundamental level. We study the constraints of the project; physical, financial, and infrastructure. We then come up with concepts that are iterated through many design review processes until we arrive at a good layout, which is then modeled in detail. Below is a brief look at our process.

Client personas

Sometimes our clients are the permanent residents, and at other times, the residents are temporary. In each case, we study the prospective users of the space through customer discovery and then develop custom personas for them.

A snippet of persona from a recent project is shown in the right. We designed an apartment intended for short-term rental to business travelers who are looking for affordable eco-friendly residences in Mauritius. We worked with the client and their network to develop personas for these business travelers.

Meet Taylor

Age: 38

Occupation: Finance consultant

Values: Environment, sustainability, experiences, growth

Hobbies: Travel, hiking, exotic cuisine

Aspirations during business travel:

  1. I want to minimize my environmental impact during my stays
  2. I want to stay at a place that is value for money
  3. I want to feel fully rested in the morning to make the most of my time in Mauritius

Fears during business travel:

  1. I don't want to spend a lot of time traveling to the city
  2. I don't want to spend time and money buying amenities that are not included in the residence

Initial hand sketch

We start with the boundaries of the residence and adjust the layout based on the orientation. We minimize the window-to-wall ratios where there will be afternoon sun exposure and maximize daylight on the other facades.

Design Thinking

Using the Design Thinking methodology, we work with the clients to brainstorm the experience we aspire to for the residents. All the ideas are then collated and discussed. This process can take a few meetings until we have a good understanding on what the journey to, through, and from the residence will be. These experiences are then translated into physical features the residence should have.

Options generation

These features then come into life through several options. All the options are discussed in detail with the pros and cons evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively before we select the final design. These designs are reviewed from the perspective of our personas with the financial constraints in mind.

Selected design

We then add some more details to the final selected design to clarify the functionality of some of the features. We also apply rules of thumb to optimize the daylighting of the residence in order to reduce energy usage from electrical lighting.

2D and 3D modeling

We then model the layout into 2D to understand what the layout looks like to scale. We make further adjustments while consulting with the client before converting the model into 3D.

Electrical design

Based on the experience we want for the residents, we determine the optimal location for power outlets. We group those outlets optimally, calculate the optimal circuit breaker sizes, and determine the wiring sizes. We also design the electrical panel and add in spares for future expansion.

Plumbing

We plan out the plumbing for the building thoroughly, reduces the construction cost significantly. First, this decreases the amount of material purchased. This is due to us specifying the exact length, type, and number of components to be purchased. This eliminates the need to purchase extra "just in case." Next, this decreases the number of manhours required to evaluate and purchase the materials needed. Last, there is less rework because everyone can see what the final outcome should be before even starting.

Electrical lighting

We determine the optimal number of light fixtures as well as their power intensity based on illuminance studies. Our principle is to achieve 100 lux everywhere and then give spot lights to achieve 200lux where the residents may need them, such as at the computer desk and dining areas. We give residents significant control over which light they can turn on or off by separating the control of each light fixtures. For example, the kitchen area is separate from the living area so that the residents only need to turn on one light when in the kitchen. Studies have shown that this feature saves a significant amount of energy over time.

Detailed analysis and optimization

In this phase, we run the model through energy and lighting analysis to find ways to optimize the residents' experience. We also run through scenarios to understand the value added by each component. For example, we examine the energy impact of using double pane windows instead of single pane windows. Another example is adding insulation to some of the walls to reduce solar heat gain. These analyses also help us size the air conditioner and determine the peak energy usage in order to size the solar power system.

Smart and sustainable products

We integrate smart and sustainable products that have a high return on investment with our designs. We aim for a five year or less payback period through energy savings, rental increase, and property value appreciation.

Virtual experience

We give you as close of an experience as possible of what will be built through the simulation. With our design, you are able to walk through the future residence and make adjustments before finalizing the design. You can also use this to show future buyers what will be built and hopefully sell the residence ahead of time.

Financial modeling

We develop financial models to determine the estimated cost of the building and to depict how it will be funded. This helps us evaluate the best financing mechanisms as well as evaluate the payback period of any upgrades used in the design. For rental units, we demonstrate the number of years it will take the client to recover their investment based on their cost of capital. We work with the client on determining their overall cost of capital based on their available sources of funding. We also research variables such as utilization ratio and market rate to help our clients have a solid projection of their cashflow over time. Our interactive models allow our clients to adjust the project variables and immediately determine how the financing is impacted. These models support our clients in their decision-making process before undertaking such a capital-intensive endeavor.

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