This year´s winners of the Boston Society of Architects in the category Sustainability Citation have been Signer Harris Architects with their ‘West Basin House’ in New Mexico, a 7000 sf-extension of a traditional New Mexican residence building.
The goals of the architects were to create a home truly reflective of the site and the local culture and implement the principles of sustainable design and material selections – including the use of solar electrich panels for generating power and leaving the home completely off the electric utility grid. Understandable that it was a challenge to adress the desire of the client to have an “antique home of traditional architecture” on the one hand avoiding cliché on the other hand.
Here the design response:
We created a traditional courtyard plan where each component – living room/kitchen, bedrooms, and master bedroom – is connected only by exterior portals (vernacular term for “covered porches”). The courtyard elements should frame views of the ranch lands and mountains. We tried to vary the design of each component in an evolving architectural style – from the traditional living/dining/kitchen building at the core of the home, to what appear to be more recently constructed bedroom and master suite buildings around the courtyard. The design variations suggest a narrative and an evolution of the home, providing a sense of history and the character that comes with age. We took advantage of sustainable materials, such as autoclaved aerated concrete blocks, that inherently support natural responses to environmental conditions. In adition to that we incorporated a full array of photovoltaic panels, solar heating panels, batteries, and other technologies to allow for modern living in this energy independent home.