Dream Home Progress

You may remember the post from Christmas about the house my husband and I plan to build in Houston. You can read the first post to see what the floor plan looks like, but now we’re exploring what the actual spaces will look like. It’s been about 6 months since then, and we’ve come a long way from what we first ‘massed out’. I wanted to share where we are in the process, as many friends have been asking about what the house is like. For the sake of brevity and to make a good attempt at ‘micro-blogging’ I will keep this update to a bullet point list of ‘talking points’ and a gallery of progress images (HA!). Keep in mind, we’re still at the very beginning of the design, so a lot can still change! (And yes, the 3D model needs a little help in the structural integrity department. Pay no attention to columns that don’t touch the ground or beams that can’t tie into walls. Imaginary houses don’t need ‘structure’).

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  • Divergence from typical Houston ‘white stucco + Ipe wood boxes’
  • Embrace history/Ecclectic Houston surroundings through materials/style
  • communicate volumes on interior and exterior?
  • express structural elements
  • explore alternate plan layout: push/pull boxes vs. armature system
  • Introduce color with materials
  • Apply theoretical ideas to design

Ok, so I can’t keep it to just a bullet list, so enjoy a quick brain dump on where we stand with these concepts: We’re not crazy about stucco for two reasons: it’s overdone in Houston and the houses around us are not holding up well. Several houses near us are being re-stuccoed after 10 years or less. Mold and mildew are a big issue here, and seeing the rotting wood under the stucco isn’t convincing me this is the best choice. We really enjoy the idea of a contemporary plan and form with more traditional materials, like brick. While we don’t want to make our house look like a warehouse, necessarily, we do enjoy that style and feeling. It’s also a great way to bring in variations of color. We’re trying to decide whether this material lends itself to longevity when applied as a veneer rather than used in a load bearing capacity (steel lintels can rust – many examples of that around town). Also, what about the modernist implications of ‘truth in materials’. Is veneer really truthful? Our lot is immediately surrounded by empty land, a dilapidated shotgun style house, a church, a cleaning supply warehouse, and a park. While you can’t get much more ‘Houston’ than this, it is difficult to pinpoint a source of inspiration when it comes to style. However, the larger theory is that Houston is a patchwork of styles and eras, and we’re trying to embrace that both conceptually and through material choices. Now that we can see the way our volumes and spaces interact, we can quickly see areas that we want to manipulate (the stairs – not so sure about solid walls…How to transition from the exterior materials to interior materials at the front window wall – do they come inside?). We’re taking the stereotypical architect route and letting the house ‘tell us what it wants to be’. (A strange way of saying we’re trying to make sure every decision has purpose and works well together!). Last but not least, I did a quick sketch of an alternate floor plan for this design. Instead of focusing on volumes that push and pull to create an undulating back wall, I focused on embracing the box (more efficient!) and instead turned my attention to a system of armatures. I was inspired by the concept of the Lovell Beach House, which divides the house into distinct bays (yay repetition!).

Another view.

Lovell Beach House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, that’s all for now – feel free to make suggestions, leave comments or ask questions about the process!


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  • ANSLQ32

    This is a nice design. Frank Lloyd Wright and Lovell would use ICF for it. They were kinda showboats and wanted their work to outlive them by several generations.