ephphatha house

Registered as “Ephphatha”, meaning Be Opened, the custom home was an opportunity to experiment with progressive ideas.

Designed to embrace the hilltop views and enveloping Paleozoic super-volcano, which is today viewed as five encircling mountain ranges; this modest sized 3,300 square-foot split-level custom home achieves the objective to create structure with the appearance of a space larger than it is. It blends in with and represents the regional beauty of Arizona’s Southwest.

The lot considered non-buildable for standard development sat vacant since 1960. The steep site conditions and close proximity to adjacent neighbors created challenges to situate the living spaces that leverage views and invite the surrounding desert environment in.

The design evolved to be regional and site sensitive, a grounded architectural object that extends from the site topography. The solution is a "T-shaped" floor plan view, that appears to rises from the top of the hill that it's stands on. The base of the “T” lies flat on hilltop grade with the top two points of the “T” rising from the space created by down sloping topography that naturally elevates to the two-story points of the home. The elevation drawings reveal two overlapping truncated triangular shapes, which rise in multiple directions and resembles the nearby mountain peaks.

Materials and colors were selected to match the site, blend and co-exist with the regional southwest. Indoors and outdoors architectural materials, tiles, and paint colors selected to compliment local area rock and vegetation, and allow this contemporary split-level structure to blend into the hilltop site match landscape and invite the southwest desert in. Custom steel panels, block walls, and rebar-ocotillo fencing compliment the regional environment. They serve to both separate adjacent homes and invite in distant views.

The architectural heart of this split-level custom home is a space that functions as a crossroad adjoining three entrances and two-flights of stairs. Its design both encloses and opens, and serves as a ceremonial front-door entrance for guests, a utilitarian entry from garage for owners, and re-entrance from the top-level master suite. The result creates a part of the house where guests and the owners enter into the same space, but on three different levels. The first flight is grounded concrete steps leading from the bottom level. The second flight, glulam beam steps with open treads, appears to float on the metal stringer.

The great room window heights with adjoining porches were customized to frame the nearby mountain ranges. The windows facing east are higher than the west to accommodating close and distant ranges and reducing the western sunset solar heat. The kitchen, located on the northern end with clearstory windows above cabinetry, creates two-way privacy. The design solution hides adjacent neighbor locations and brings in the views of the mountains above the neighbors home.

The resulting design creates openness and a sense of three-dimensional movement experience. It creates a sense of being enveloped and surrounded by five mountain ranges and the city views.

The house was published in "ARCHITECT" magazine.

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