We’re in Dwell again!

Our slideshow is in the front page of Dwell. On the print version, we are in the “Houses we Love” section. Coolness. I love, love Dwell… and they are awesome to deal with, on top of it.

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Me

back when I smoked…

Photo: Magda Bonet

Stopping smoking is the best thing I’ve ever done for my son, the second, I think, is taking him to the KPM Institute’s SAM School

I was elated at this TED conference video on education, besides being allowed to be free and self-initiate his education at SAMS, Kilean goes to ballet 3 times a week and is in two bands. He wrote a Haiku yesterday, though he has completely forgotten it today. I love you more than anything in the world, Kilean. My wish for you is total freedom.

And since I’m posting videos and talking about creativity, see Leonard Cohen in concert. The most fun I’ve had in a decade was on April 1 at the first Austin concert by the sexiest 70 yr old to ever live and the greatest poet of our time. I’ve been reading and listening to him since I was fifteen. It was me yelling “I love you Leonard” as explained in this review. A magic night alright. You can’t describe it with words. Go see the man if he comes by your town… To make this post a full circle, my friend, the writer Magda Bonet, who took my picture way back when and just sent it to me a million years later and a thousand kisses deep, is very good friends with the virtuoso guitarist Javier Mas who is from my home town.

Sustainable Homes in the USA

We are proud to be in this fine book and I’m particularly happy that my pictures are getting published all over the place. I’m enjoying photography more and more, as I have been mentioning in this blog. I’m preparing an exhibition… I’ll post about it soon.

Anyway, the focus of the book is sustainability. I encourage you to review the Texas Architect article by Richard Wintersole, AIA:

 Conserving energy is important to Neal, thus the SIPs serve as a thermal umbrella and air is encouraged to circulate through the building from end to end. The Farleys plan to add a large, low-velocity fan to improve the air circulation. When ambient air breezes through the home, the Farleys and their guests are truly in touch with the natural world.”

or by going to the Dwell article by Sarah Rich

In a climate like this, air-conditioning seems indispensable, but to cool the entire structure artificially would be inefficient and costly. Neal devised a solution by building a 540-square-foot box nested within the superstructure, which contains the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, as the only air-conditioned space in the building. The two-story plywood envelope has sliding walls on all sides that can be closed to keep cool temperatures in or left open to the fluctuations of the natural ventilation throughout the building.”

 

Dennis The Plumber

MJ and I have good luck with plumbers. Dennis Messer, a sub of Living Art Austin is rapidly winning our hearts. The Wolfe Den is not an easy plumbing job. In this slideshow, Dennis is proudly showing us several features of these fantastic bathrooms. Like the dual shower heads, the ability to shower all over the place including the outdoor enclosed terrace, the hidden traps (you don’t see any!) the hidden drain. A great job by Dennis and a sweetest soul to boot. We just found out today that he injured his thumb on a job. He’s ok, but gave us a start. Get well soon Dennis! We really love and appreciate you!

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Creative Process Sneak a Peak

I was opening files and this Skype chat between MJ and I came up.  We were in the same city, yes, but in different houses, late at night (noooo we didn’t have a fight… it’s a loooong story… to be told another time) We had a deadline on an article we had been asked to write for our good friends at the Good Life Magazine so we both got on skype…

You won’t see a post like this every day on this blog, no sir

Skype

Chat History with 

Created on 2006-12-07 22:51:33.

2006-12-07

mj:22:23:52
test
barcelonaloca:22:23:57
hello
mj:22:24:03
yes
mj:22:25:17
so we’re working remotely for this article. the beuty and the beast of technology
mj:22:25:36
how are we to maintain a physical community with this?
barcelonaloca:22:25:57
it would be a long story to explain why we are not doing this in person, but it IS related to housing
mj:22:26:09
or not
barcelonaloca:22:26:23
ok the absence of housing then
mj:22:27:00
well maybe it is also the absence of the ability for most to be “neighbors” these days or maybe that is a little to harsh
barcelonaloca:22:27:40
I liked your perception of the fence around our house, I’m going to paste it here
mj:22:27:58
it is a beautiful metophor
mj:22:28:11
a physical thing
mj:22:28:19
a real thing
barcelonaloca:22:28:21
Our current house has a low chain link fence around the back yard. You know the type, the one your parents put up to keep the family dog from getting into their friend’s–read neighbors–yard and digging up the tomatoes. The fence dad would lean on while talking to Mr. Jones. The fence where Mrs. Jones would trade mom some tomatoes for zucchini. Well this fence of ours, has gates in it to the neighbors’ yards. Imagine that. Openings to my neighbors’yards. A gesture to the sense of community right there in my own back yard.
 But these gates are covered with vines and have been wired shut.   When? Why? What a beautiful thing those gates are.
(this is a goo “last line)I wonder if my neighbors would like some Squash?  

mj:22:28:24
tactile
mj:22:28:41
is that goo or good?
barcelonaloca:22:28:47
good
barcelonaloca:22:29:10
maybe we should skip the IM thing and go home and get in bed
barcelonaloca:22:29:13
together
barcelonaloca:22:29:19
I like the tactile part
mj:22:29:26
yeah..
barcelonaloca:22:29:38
ok back to the article
barcelonaloca:22:29:40
rats
mj:22:29:48
double arts
barcelonaloca:22:30:12
somehow I think that the point you make about community is also related to “truth”
mj:22:30:15
that should be double rats
barcelonaloca:22:30:29
or double star

(…)

Continue reading

The House that Will Never be.

(Yet another one) For all those people that think the project on south 5 st, in Bouldin, is ours, no it isn’t! This is the house we had designed and permitted for South 5 St and that was never built.This was actually the second design for this extremely difficult lot. We posted the first design a while ago…

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Twin Peaks Explained

tp2evevv

Twin Peaks Project – Two Single Family Urban/Suburban Residences

There seems to be a few questions about Twin Peaks on Apartment Therapy. I guess we can answer them here… Yes, the central piece seems to float off the walls. It’s structure is attached to the wall by brackets. Since the houses are not big, it allows for the eye to travel in between and it creates a much “lighter” feeling.

The finish on the center folding piece is a type of catalyzed polyurethane, it’s like a lacquer, though it is NOT technically a lacquer.

Here’re the pics we have and a wonderful article about the house by Kris Krager, a colleague, who wrote the article for an issue of Texas Architect, when the project won a State Award (TSA) I would link to the article but it’s not online anymore!

Urban/Suburban Hybrid by Chris Krager, Assoc. AIA

PROJECT: Twin Peaks, Austin ARCHITECT: M.J. Neal Architects PROJECT TEAM: M.J. Neal, AIA; Thomas Bercy; Powei Chen; Joseph Winkler; Justin Rumpeltes; Viviane Vives CONSULTANT: Jerry Garcia (Structures) PHOTOGRAPHERS: Viviane Vives; M.J. Neal

Two Austin townhouses defy increasing density and create space on a constrained suburban site.

Like many other American cities, Austin has seen a significant increase in central city development in the past five years. The realization that Austin cannot sustain the continued stretching of its urban infrastructure has led to such initiatives as Smart Growth and Traditional Neighborhood Development. These initiatives have led to relatively low-risk residential development guided primarily by builders erecting traditional housing or “soft-loft” projects priced at the top end of the market.

However, instead of relying solely on the high-end of the economic spectrum, cities such as Austin have the opportunity to deal with – economically, architecturally, and socially – the urban phenomenon of centripetal growth with innovative residential typologies. Moreover, placing suburban houses in quasi-urban environments is essentially irresponsible and results in a lost opportunity for more creative solutions.

With his Twin Peaks project, M.J. Neal, AIA, set out to challenge the unimaginative builder model with a “urban/suburban hybrid.” The problems he faced are neither unique to Austin nor without historical precedent (think of Arabian courtyard houses and urban townhouses): How to design stand-alone single-family residences with the amenities of the suburban home within neighborhoods of increased density, and how to provide residents a comfortable level of isolation on a constrained site while allowing controlled engagement with the public realm?

To successfully address these issues, a building must become an exercise in spatial economy. This Neal accomplished in Twin Peaks with choreographed movement around articulated service masses. The two buildings are essentially vertical tubes with which Neal has taken an additive/subtractive approach. Additive is service function (the central stair/storage element) and subtractive are the moments of respite (screened porches and decks). Surprisingly, while these are not large buildings (1,600 sf of air-conditioned space and 1,000 sf of exterior space), they accommodate much more than one would expect.

Neal assembled this new typology with innovative technologies – SIPS panels, steel/mdf cabinets, catalyzed polyurethane finishes, high-velocity HVAC system, and boat-building plywood, to name a few – and off-the-shelf materials that he customized to varying degrees. Continue reading