Text description provided by the architects. Situated on a narrow lot overlooking Seddon Channel and the Port of Tampa, the 512 House fronts a bustle of multi-modal activity – from sailboats and freighters moving up and down the channel, to cyclists and joggers speeding along the street, to small airplanes taking off and landing at a nearby airport. The house weaves its rich surroundings in and out of its spaces, its design both a reflection of its dynamic site and a portal through which to experience it. The building’s pared-down gable form echoes the pure geometries of the cylindrical silos and boxy warehouses across the channel. On the porches, flat bar-grate decking and railings made of metal netting evoke the intricate mechanics of machinery while providing sturdy yet transparent surfaces.
Exposed concrete columns and beams anchor the building to the ground and lift livable spaces above the flood elevation. The entry door is powder-coated green and reflects dancing patterns of sun and water, imbuing a lightness to an otherwise solid material. The simplicity of the home’s exterior shape belies a more complex sequence of stacked and interlocking spaces on the interior.
Strategically placed double-height volumes reveal the split-level section and create a diversity of experiences within a modest footprint. A wide-open living space spanning the length of the structure is defined by porches at each end that buffer between the private space of the residence and the active street and waterscape just outside. On either side of the living space, a wall of glass panels slides open to catch breezes from the channel and allow for passive ventilation throughout the year.
Folded steel plates form a switchback staircase that connects each level of the home. On the second floor, the steel reappears as a bridge across the open dining area, where a large North facing skylight illuminates two levels of space with indirect natural light. In the study, built-in walnut cabinetry transitions from a desk, to shelving, to a window seat that is accessed from the hallway a half level above. The gable-shaped metal roof is expressed on the interior as a sloped wood ceiling that evokes the inside of a ship’s hull and creates intimate spaces on the second floor that provide moments of respite amidst the busy surroundings.