You wouldn't expect to find experimental architecture in McAllen, a small city in southwestern Texas. But architect Luis López Reséndez may be out to change outsiders' perception, if his own house provides any indication. Acting as his own client, Reséndez got to enjoy something that's rare for a professional architect: total design freedom.
House Tour: A Prototypical Suburban House, Reinvented
In southwestern Texas, a Chicago-trained architect challenged himself to create something new and exciting from an intensely familiar building type—the suburban ranch home. Dubbed Casa Westway, the project does away with many of the distinctions that, in traditional architecture, are taken for granted—the separation of one room and the next, for instance, or the boundary between indoors and out. Here, blurred lines make for an utterly unique residence that looks very like the original ranch—or for that matter, any other ranch in America.
Texas in Translation1/8
Refashioning the Familiar2/8
Rectangular in shape, sitting squat under a simple pitched-roof, the original three-bedroom house looked identical, not only to its immediate neighbors, but also to countless ranch-style residences spread across the country. That's what makes the project so special; Reséndez started with a familiar design and ended with something utterly unique.
Though it's no larger than it had been before, the house now asserts itself on the block, largely thanks to the novelty of its roof. Reséndez stretched the metal roof out and down, allowing the material to curtain one full side of the building. With no obvious distinction between roof and facade, the home takes on an innovative, seamless outward appearance.
Inside, Reséndez took down most of the walls that had once divided the ranch into a series of small, separate spaces. Now, only the bedrooms remain private. The central living areas, in contrast, flow into one another in a fluid relationship that even carries onto the backyard patio, accessed through a generous expanse of sliding glass doors.
A Universal Space5/8
The airy openness, Reséndez says, is "a reflection of how a family interacts." He sums up his renovation of the interior by commenting, "We wanted a space where we could be together on a daily basis—a universal space."
Indoors and Out6/8
With no one but himself to answer to, Reséndez was free to develop creative responses to whatever problems arose. Some challenges were specific to the project (e.g, the site or the budget), while others were of the common variety faced at one time by most homeowners and pros—for instance, how does one integrate interior and exterior space?
By adding a panel of clerestory windows, Reséndez was able to wash the main living area in natural light. And while there had always been a set of sliding doors providing access to the backyard, Resendez dramatically enlarged the opening in order to facilitate the sort of indoor-outdoor living that the Texas climate makes possible and desirable.
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