Blackshear : Inspiration & First Renderings

blackshear-courtyard

If you get my newsletter, you know that last week we sat down with our architect Bercy Chen and took a first peek at the renderings and floor plans for our new house. I'm going to dig into them in a second, but I wanted to give you a little bit of history as to how we got to where we are. 

When we first met with Thomas Bercy, we had a decent sized list of requirements for our house. It must have a main house between 1,200 - 1,400 sq/ft with a courtyard and a 400 sq/ft guest/pool house. It must have a pool and a carport. Price of the build needs to be $200 sq/ft or lower and on and on. While there was a lot we knew about what we wanted, the reason we chose Bercy Chen is because they understood what we didn't know we wanted. We had some loose ideas as far as influences that we wanted to incorporate, but no idea how to put them together. For example my aesthetic is very minimalist, while that of my wife is much more eclectic. Below is some concrete inspiration that Thomas was able to pull out of us after a few quick meetings. 

  Alvaro Siza is a great example of the minimalist look I love. All the focus is on light, form and volume. 

Alvaro Siza is a great example of the minimalist look I love. All the focus is on light, form and volume. 

 Louis Barragan builds on the minimalism that appeals to me, but adds warmth for my wife.

Louis Barragan builds on the minimalism that appeals to me, but adds warmth for my wife.

The example above create a base upon which we can build on. There is a focus on volume, scale and light. That would be the basis for the main structure. Another equally important part of our project is the courtyard. In fact the whole site is based around a large pecan tree that will anchor the courtyard. This space is inspired by moroccan courtyards and the goal is to create a private, and more rich outdoor space nestled in the middle of our lot. It will be the location of our pool, sunken conversation pit, and the heart of the home.

 Typical Moroccan courtyards with water features and lush landscaping.

Typical Moroccan courtyards with water features and lush landscaping.

 Adding color and pattern.

Adding color and pattern.

 Sun shade inspiration for porches.

Sun shade inspiration for porches.

The above will provide the basis of the design cues that go into the project. The last, and one that I am particularly excited about is bringing some of the incredible pattens of traditional Islamic geometry into the project. We have a number of ways we can integrate these patterns subtly into the project without seeming insincere. 

traditional islamic geometry

Ok, up to now we have been talking about specific must haves and vague style ideas. The hard part of course is to marry those two things together. For us, Bercy Chen started us out with three different floor plans and associated 3D renderings. The first was a single story layout. Ideally we want a house that doesn't look opposing from the street, so we thought a single story would be ideal. Unfortunately our lot is too small to fit all the programing into the space so it doesn't look like a viable option. In addition, both our neighbors houses are two story homes, so in reality a two story home will fit the scale of the block better anyway.

 Scheme 2 : Street view

Scheme 2 : Street view

 Scheme 2 : Courtyard

Scheme 2 : Courtyard

The two renderings above show scheme 2 which adds a second story. You can start to see all the inspiration meeting together. The only issue with these scheme is that it has a lot of unnecessary deck space off of the second story. In the final scheme, half of this space is given back to the first floor in the form of a double height ceiling in the living room. 

 Scheme 3 : Courtyard, view from pool house.

Scheme 3 : Courtyard, view from pool house.

 Scheme 3 : Kitchen, living area thin line sketch. 

Scheme 3 : Kitchen, living area thin line sketch. 

The above two renderings show the courtyard view and the interior for the final scheme. At this point I feel like we have a solid base to build upon. The floor plan is about 90% set, and we are almost to the point that we can start getting into my favorite part, all the tiny details. We will be spending two weeks in Morocco in Dec getting some inspiration, and hopefully sourcing some materials as well. If anyone has connections to help us ship things back from Morocco inexpensively, give me a shout. I'd love to get the scoop.