This house blurs the lines between indoors and out. A floating pavilion roof hovers over the interior and exterior spaces while sliding glass panels and corrugated concrete walls define its courtyards

Designed by Specht Architects

Winner – TIDA International Home of the Year

From the architects:

The design of this 743m² house was driven by the desire to blur the lines between inside and outside while providing a sense of privacy and seclusion from the street and surrounding neighbourhood. Its design is influenced by strategies common to classic Dallas modern homes of the 1950s and ‘60s.

Heavy cast-concrete walls extend from the interior of the house out into the landscape, breaking the modern box, and creating courtyards that allow for a bright, nature-filled view from every room.

This effect is complemented by the huge glass walls that define each space. 

A large, floating, pavilion roof hovers over both the interior and exterior rooms, defining a special living precinct in the site and further fragmenting the boundary between interior and exterior.

The roof shape and large cantilevered overhangs were carefully configured to provide complete shading from the harsh Dallas sun at all times of day. 

An impluvium or opening in the centre of the roof is modelled on those found in traditional Roman houses and allows rainwater and light to reach the garden below. 

Flowing water plays a large part in the design as well. 

Beginning at the entry, a narrow channel courses through the site and to the pool beyond. The stream is punctuated by a series of cascading terraces and a gentle waterfall near the main entry. At night, lighting within the water casts changing patterns on the adjacent textured concrete surfaces.

A new Brutalism

The concrete walls in the Preston Hollow house were cast using custom-fabricated formwork that creates a corrugated appearance.  

This technique, a staple of Brutalist architecture from the 1960s and ‘70s creates a play of shadows and pattern that changes throughout the day, says Scott Specht, founder of Specht Architects. 

“Unlike the Brutalist work from that era, however, the heavy walls here are countered by delicate steel columns, thin window frames, and the hovering cantilevered edges of the roof. The concrete is a grounding element that provides a contrast to the overall lightness of the spaces.”

Traditions of Dallas Modernism – a context

Dallas has a long tradition of modern architecture that faded for decades and is now experiencing a resurgence. 

The home sites of Central Dallas, which are urban, relatively dense, and close to the city centre, have driven a unique residential architecture with shaded and screened living spaces that are inward-looking and private. 

This house refers to examples such as Edward Durell Stone’s 1959 Oak Court house, with its outdoor covered dining room surrounded by water, and Philip Johnson’s 1963 Beck Residence with its tree-filled inner courtyards.

Sustainable design features 

The design for this house is organised around eliminating direct solar gain while still allowing for expansive views. As mentioned, the large pavilion roof and cantilevered roof overhangs were modelled to provide complete passive shading from the harsh Dallas sun at all times of day. 

In addition, the entire west façade has no openings at all. Large operable areas of glazing allow for extensive natural ventilation during appropriate seasons. 

The impluvium allows rainwater to reach the courtyard garden and water collection area below. This rainwater is used for irrigation and other non-potable uses.

Credit list

Landscape architect
David Hocker
Lighting designer
Douglas Architectural Lighting
Mechanical engineer
ED Miller Service Company
Halliday + Baillie
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) – International Home of the Year
Interior design
Magni Kalman Design
Sebastian Construction
Structural engineer
Architectural Engineers Collaboration
Building enclosure engineer
Acton Partners, LLC
Lighting controls

Designed by: Specht Architects

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Casey Dunn

24 Mar, 2021

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