We designed the new fire station on Saba, commissioned by Rijksvastgoedbedrijf. The station will be built on the airport grounds of Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport. This is to replace the current fire station of the Caribbean Netherlands Fire Brigade (BKCN) in the terminal building at the airport. We have chosen to make the fire station part of the landscape; a structure as a landscape instead of an autonomous building.
Local materials and vegetation
We have designed an energy-efficient building, as part of the modern Caribbean architecture. We also consciously looked at how the construction is done as energy-efficiently as possible. That is why the design includes many local materials, which have been used on Saba for decades. The building consists of a concrete construction, where the aggregate is local and only the cement has to be imported. The facade cladding consists of stones that were harvested during the excavation for the project. A method that has been used on Saba for centuries. By applying local materials and techniques you are not only sustainable in terms of energy, but also economically because a large part of the investment stimulates the local economy.
The roofs will be insulated and covered with the local stone. The water that ends up on the roof will be collected in an (underground) cistern. This is a necessity on Saba because there is no tap water on this location.
Sun and heat
The heat load on the building is very limited. The south and west sides of the building disappear underground, so the sun cannot heat these facades. The largest openings are in the north facade where there is little or no solar radiation. In addition, the windows have been placed at the back of the facade and the opening has been framed, limiting the amount of sunlight even more. The openings in the east facade have the same frame and the entrance door is one meter, so that the sun exposure is also minimal on this side.
We were experienced with making hurricane proof buildings, especially for utility construction. For example we designed a hurricane resistant school on Sint Maarten.
The fire station in Saba is designed to withstand Category 5 hurricanes. Every building and structure on Saba must be built as hurricane resistant as possible, especially when it comes to facilities for emergency services which must be operational after a hurricane has passed (and even during a hurricane). Making the fire station of reinforced concrete makes it relatively easy to make the main supporting structure hurricane resistant.
Floor plan with different zones
We have divided the map into three zones: de vuile zone, tussenzone en schone zone. There is a clear separation between the zones: de schone zone is for the offices in the station. It is designed so it can be flexibly arranged on a grid of 1,800 mm. De vuile zone is where the activities of the firefighters take place. Here you also find the garage for the fire trucks which have direct access to the paved outside area. This area has sufficient dimensions for maneuvering fire trucks and can be used for exercises.
Brazilian-Spanish artist Sara Ramo was commissioned to produce a commemorative public artwork. The artwork is made of thousands of little objects that will occupy the gaps between the rocks of the top layer of the fire station’s outer wall. The rock wall is representative for the conventional architecture of the island.
The main focus of the artwork is the local community and their shared history. So everyone can contribute a small object. The idea is to create a collection of intimate memories that range from archaeological remains to everyday collectibles. There are several activities organized with different age groups and local organizations to collect or produce small objects embedded with individual meanings. With this approach the community is directly connected of the new building.