The Annie Residence consists of two pavilions connected by a glass hallway, enclosing a water garden. With all sides of the house opening onto this reflecting pool, it becomes the focal point of house. The house serves as an example that green architecture doesn’t have to mean living in an insulated box divorced from the environment. On the contrary, the house is an inspiration for those looking for a poetic shade of green.
Each pavilion contains a central core made of a steel stud frame, covered in translucent blue or red acrylic panels. To maximize energy efficiency, these colorful cores contain all of the service areas of the house. The volumes are staggered to create a deck in the front of the house, as well as a more private patio to the back. The transparent glass bridge visually unites these exterior living spaces. Additional outdoor rooms are created with accessible roofs; the terraces provide space for plants and alfresco dining.
The roof space is covered with a retractable awning made of shading tarp for nurseries and hardware from the nautical industry. The structural system is a modular steel frame infilled with thermasteel panels. The design strategy maximizes prefabricated components, eliminating considerable construction waste. The walls utilized a 4×8 module, topped by 12” clerestory windows. Disciplined use of this module allowed for the installation of full sheets of birch plywood, assuring virtually no waste.
The thermasteel panels consist of galvanized steel studs with compressed styrofoam, providing a vapor barrier and exceptionally high insulation ratings. No paint was used for walls and concrete floors have been sealed with low VOC sealer. The roof uses a combination of rigid and batt insulation to achieve an insulated R value of 54. The glass walls are double glazed, insulated, tinted and have a low-E coating. Given the hot Texas sun, this high degree of efficiency was critical. The structural frame is exposed, showing the construction process and articulating the house’s facades.
The house is oriented around a partial courtyard. With the western wall constructed of insulated SIPS panel the internal walls are free to be open. This allows the majority of the cooling load to be handled with passive natural ventilation. An existing deciduous tree in the center of the ‘court’ provides shade during the summer and allows precious winter light to enter after leaves have fallen. The front yard is xeriscaped with sage, rosemary and oleanders, requiring no water for irrigation. Rainwater from the roof is captured and used for a water garden, which in turn, cools the house both physically and psychologically.
The southern glass façade is covered via a combination of vegetation and a wooden trellis, providing a perfect balance of openness and protection. The design concept was greatly influenced by different regions and cultures. Both the use of the roof as an outdoor living space and the shading devices are derived from Moorish architecture. The body of water and the spatial continuity between inside and outside was inspired by Asian architecture. The structural transparency of the volumes and the minimalist aspect of the interior were derived from Japanese pavilions.