Text description provided by the architects. The owner requested a house to foster a certain way of living; to meet individual needs while encouraging the family to be together, to take advantage of Mississippi’s wonderful environment, to interact with friends and family, to have a private respite, to work at home, to be healthy, and to be energy efficient. The Oak Ridge House is a modern, sustainable, southern house, alive with character. The design amplifies the effective conditions of its context. It takes advantage of the lay of the land and the movement of the sun and contributes to the formal rhythm and spatial condition of the street. The design challenges the rote conditions of its context. It adds diversity to this traditional inner city neighborhood and challenges the inward, and the private idea of home to foster growth and inquiry in experience.
The 3,750 sqf Oak Ridge House is a composition of intertwined volumes, shapes, and spaces. A large, open living/dining room, and a long rectangular private bedroom wing interpenetrate to form the kitchen. In general, the large open room is pushed toward a condition of exposure with an open curtain wall to the east and a large band of shaded windows to the west. This tall volume feels more like an open courtyard than an interior. The north and south walls of the large room are more like building facades than interior partitions. The south wall/facade is a continuation of the exterior wall of the long south building that penetrates into the living/dining room.
The north wall/façade screens the loft and lower studio with a pecan-paneled bookcase/stair that grows out of the first floor and a concrete wall/stair that grows out of the lower studio. This space sits between the street and the rear yard. With the drapery open and the right light, the public view pushes through the house and into the private yard. Other times the space feels like an extension of the private yard. Glass subdivides interior and exterior, acting as both veil and mirror, constantly doubling inside out, outside in. Materials and assemblies were chosen for character, economy, sustainability, and durability. The structure is exposed throughout the interior and provides texture and pattern, enlivening interior surfaces and limiting the need for “coverings”.
The wood frame walls are taped and coated with a high-performance water/air barrier. Over this sealed surface, slate and zinc shingles are layered to shed water. A double-shell roof over the living wing is finished with a standing seam zinc outer skin. The interior walls are painted a soft, rich gray that is colored warm or cool by the light acting upon it. These walls provide backdrop and contrast, allowing the more vibrant colors of people, art, furniture, and fabric to resonate in the interior. Local pecan casework and bamboo floors provide warm, natural compliments. Brought inside, the mottled green and purple slate invites touch. On the exterior, its pattern and a broad range of natural color balance the strong building profile.