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1704B Stuart Street is a residence in Houston's midtown. It was designed and its' construction overseen by a builder who is also an architect with years of hands on experience. It was designed to be an elegant, energy efficient, low maintenance and trouble free home.
The home is completely detached. It is 2,425 square feet and laid out on two levels. This gives it one stair case from the 1st to the 2nd floor and it provides its' residents a two story life style in the heart of the city. As opposed to three or four level living arrangements in most new inner loop homes.
On the first floor are;
On the second floor are;
The residence is conveniently located close to a quiet freeway ramp that enters 288 South towards the coast. It is also a couple of blocks from Highway 59 North which conveniently links to all other major freeways.
It's Midtown location allows for easy access to other parts of Midtown as well as quick access to down town Houston. Main Street and the train are seven blocks to the West.
The five acre and recently renovated "ELIZABETH BALDWIN PARK" is a block to the North.
The exterior of the home was designed as a simplistic "traditional" envelope with "modern" detailing. The interior of the home was designed to be sleekly modern with white surfaces and many windows to create a bright and mood lifting home. The home’s interior was designed with a monochromatic (white, gray, black) color scheme. The idea behind that was to provide a back drop for the resident to color with furniture and art pieces. The home was designed with art displays in mind.
There is no grass to cut. The exterior has a few plants, decorative gravel and some mulch in the back yard. The Holly Ferns on the west side of the house are nicely watered whenever it rains by the water which falls from the roof and the roof of the adjacent house. The small patch of "rear yard" is mulch with a few fox tail ferns.
The floors with the exception of the bedrooms and closets are porcelain tile. Porcelain tile;
The walls and ceilings are white and the same color. As a result they are easy to touch up and re-paint. The architect suggests leaving them white and coloring the house with furnishings and art.
There are no gas lines in the house, therefore no gas can leak. As mentioned the cooktop was chosen because of it’s slick appearance and energy efficient cooking.
The foundation is post tensioned. This means that the concrete is poured across loose metal strand cables that span across the slab. Once the concrete initially sets up a machine (jack) pulls on the cables leaving them in tension similar to tuned piano wires. The cables have the effect of “cinching up” the concrete.
A post tension foundation rests upon the earth in a manner that is conceptually similar to a ship on water. This foundation assumes that there is going to be some minimal movement in the soil beneath and is designed to move very slightly in tandemwith the soil without failing (breaking). The less movement, the better.
Post tensioning is a good system if done correctly. When it fails, it is usually because it was not installed correctly. The builder personally ordered all of the materials and oversaw the testing and construction of the foundation.
A good post tension foundation is dependent on the following aspects;
This describes the condition of the existing “earth” that the house will rest upon. The engineer uses the soils report to calculate the foundation design. The builder uses the soils report to guide how the area beneath the foundation is prepared before the foundation is installed on top of it. Sculpturesque20142,LLC uses “Geotech Engineering” because of their reputation for being conservative.
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Once the vegetation, trees and associated roots are removed from the area beneath where the foundation will be installed, the builder has to consider the stability of the existing soil. Stability is all about water content. A very dry soil on a desert where it never rains will be innately stable, barring earthquakes. A very wet soil on the edge of a marsh will be innately unstable. The biggest enemy to a post tensioned foundation is when the soil beneath changes moisture content rapidly going from drought to rains or visa versa. The soil in Houston is typically moist and takes on moisture rapidly and dries out rapidly. The change in states can cause the earth beneath a foundation to heave and break a foundation. It is good practice to install a post tensioned foundation during weather that is consistent and reasonably typical for an area. That is to say a reasonable balance between rain and not rain. The more that the raw earth beneath the foundation is consistent with that balance, the less likely it is to change states, shift and crack.
This post tensioned foundation was constructed during a reasonable rain cycle and care was taken to remove excessive moisture from the raw earth. An engineering company was hired to assist the builder in overseeing the process
The building pad is a layer of “select fill” which goes on top of the raw earth and then supports the foundation which is directly on top of it. Select fill is essentially a specified dirt that is brought to the site in trucks, spread across the foundation area, and then packed down with large equipment in six to eight inch layers. If this is done correctly, an engineer is performing tests on it throughout the installation. The pad at 1704B was tested by an engineer.
“Select Fill” is less subject to absorb moisture and swell. It is also less susceptible to drying out and shrinking than native soils around Houston. It is more “stable.” It provides a stable pad directly under slab and further shields the slab from changes in the natural soil below.
The engineer specifies the strength of the concrete. The engineer’s specifications were complied with at 1704B Stuart Street.
This house is essentially a rectilinear box sitting on a rectilinear foundation. There are no offsets or protrusions in the configuration of the basic foundation, just four 90 degree outside corners. That is a stout configuration. The structural frame of the house is stout for the same basic reason.
The Structure is entirely sheathed in 1/2" oriented strand board except for the first two feet which is treated (marine grade) plywood. The treate plywood is visible in the picture as a darker color.
The two biggest problems that residences have in Houston, Texas are foundations due to the local soils conditions and leaks due to the amount of rain that can fall in a short period of time. The "envelope" of this residence is designed;
The exterior of the residence is completely clad in cementitious lap siding which;
Houston is in ASHRAE CLIMATE ZONE #2. This means that the predominant concern at this latitude is keeping the seasonal heat and humidity from entering building structures.
The roof at 1704B Stuart is composed of composition shingles. A light color was chosen which has an "energy star" designation. The light color reflects more energy than a darker one.
The shingles are supported by an oriented strand board substrate that has a foil "radiant barrier" adhered to one side (see attic photo above). This serves to block some radiant energy from entering the attic and then the house.The attic is insulated with twelve inches of blown insulation. (R-30)
The exterior walls of the house are 2x6 studs on both floors which allowed the use of 6 inch (R-19) batt insulation in the walls rather than only four inch batts that would be accommodated by 2x4 walls.
This additional wall and insulation thicknesses also serves to make the house interior quieter.
Another benefit of the 2x6 walls is the additional structural integrity that they afford versus 2x4 walls.
The attic is R-30 blown insulation.
Porcelain tile was chosen as the floor material on the entire first floor (and in the baths and loft on the second floor.)
Porcelain tile was invented years ago primarily for laboratory applications where it’s structure and density was desirable to resist acid spills and other abuses. It evolved into residential applications and makes for a very dense and durable surface in a home. Not all porcelain tile is laboratory grade but generally speaking it is very durable material. It is typically much more resistant to scratching and gouging than wood floors. It is also resistant to movement due to shrinking and swelling from moisture changes which can be evidenced as opening of floor seams and un-leveling in wood floors. It will never require refinishing as wood floors will.
Porcelain tile is a dense material and more conductive of heat than other materials such as wood flooring. As a result, porcelain tile more readily absorbs interior heat and conducts it to the concrete slab on the first floor which in turn more readily conducts it to the cooler earth underneath the house. This has the effect of passively maintaining a cooler interior in the warmer months.
Materials such as carpet and wood flooring have higher insulative properties and retain more heat than porcelain tile. In the cold climate, this might make them preferable, but Houston is not that.
Many days of the year, this effect combined with ceiling fans running will make the house comfortable without mechanical cooling. It becomes too hot in the summer months not to run the air conditioning system but the ac system will be assisted by this effect.
As anecdotal proof of this effect…you may have noticed that a family pet will almost always choose tile over other flooring materials to lay on because of it’s cooler temperature.
The windows are the code required double paned E-GLASS.
There are a lot of windows in the house and many of them are located high on the wall to create a bright interior that reduces the need for artificial light while maintaining privacy and wall surface for art display.
The front of the house predominantly faces north. The east side is shielded largely from the eastern sun by a new and larger adjacent structure. The west side of the house is largely shaded from the western sun by an adjacent home. The rear of the house is predominantly south facing but receives some shading from existing trees. The rear also has an overhang that shields the rear doors and provides partial coverage for an outdoor dining area.
THE COLORS USED
The color scheme used throughout the house is white. The walls are "bright white" by Sherwin Williams. The Doors and trim are a slight off white. The floors are mostly a glossy white porcelain tile with a faux figuring that suggests carrera marble. The countertops are a highly figured gray and white marble. The cabinet fronts are a glossy pure white finish.
White surfaces, particularly glossy ones optimize light reflection. The light that enters a white room is reflected and essentially "reused" more than it would be in a room with colored walls. Hence, less artificial light is required in the home.
Bright white rooms are uplifting and cheerful and the possessions and artwork of the owner become the color in the rooms.
The kitchen cooktop is electric and uses "electromagnetic induction" to cook the food. The cooking utensils themselves become the heat source for the cooking process and in doing so the amount of energy required to cook food is made significantly more efficient. The actual cooktop remains cool while cooking is occurring other than whatever heat is radiated back on to it by the heated utensils. In addition to the energy features, the cook top is a sleek and elegant piece of black glass that is very easily cleaned.
The garage door is an expensive aluminum and glass door picked to be consistent with the modern detailing of the home. The glass is frosted to allow light to come in, yet provide privacy. During the daylight hours the garage door illuminates the garage very well and artificial light is not necessary for coming and going in the car.
Please contact me.
Martin Lide Architect
1822 Prospect Str
Houston, TX 77004
713 562 3910
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