With the building site at the boundary of Agua Fria Village on the Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro, we merged a modernist sensibility with a materiality drawn from this once-rural community. The overarching goal is to convey the feeling of a modern ruin—clean, elegant form with a weathered, hand-hewn feel. The rusting steel panels and exposed rammed-earth sit in the company of vernacular chicken houses, garden sheds and old barns. The structure has a sense of mass and solidity while still encouraging interplay between indoor and outdoor environments.
The owner wanted to create a mix of earthen and industrial architecture - a Modern Ruin. The design incorporates rammed earth and weathered steel panels . The house is organized in an “L” shaped plan, with a two story steel clad concrete tower at its hinge point. One wing contains a living/dining room with open web steel trusses, exposed rammed earth walls and a roll-up glass garage door. The other wing includes a carport and prefabricated metal studio that provides studio, office and workshop space. The tower houses an entry and support functions; a bedroom with access to the rooftop patio and garden.
Concrete forms were re-purposed for rammed earth form work, and eventually milled down to finish lumber. The site is developed with permaculture techniques. Water catchment and gray water reuse are key to maintaining cottonwood and aspen trees, limber pines, native grasses and restoring the property's historic orchard. This home is literally made from the earth – with excavation soil used in the rammed earth mixture - and one distant day it will return to the earth.
Passive solar orientation and plate steel overhangs, natural ventilation, solar-thermal radiant floor heating, rainwater catchment, a green roof, permaculture landscape and reused building materials.