Project Description



Project Type: Education

Construction Type: Residential

Work Performed: Design

Year Designed: 2018

Material Type: Wood | Masonry

Project Location: Marfa, TX

Project Size: 1,000 SF

Project Description

The Marfa Residence serves as the first residential project assigned in the second semester of third year architecture school. A community of sites lie vacant alongside the dried-up riverbed running through the once forgotten town of Marfa, TX. Buildings on each existing site, varying in size, had since been demolished while only concrete block foundations remained. Each student was assigned an existing foundation in which a new residence was to be designed for a specified client created by the designer. Each program was encouraged to explore and integrate possible environmental systems to better suit the client.

This design allows for a sustainably minimal lifestyle providing just enough space for one or two people. Environmental control systems are highly integrated from sun shading, to water collection, to natural heating and cooling. The greenhouse adds a unique feature to the residence that serves the entire project environmentally and sustainably with forward thinking providing a green twist to the typical lifestyle.

Marfa Residence was designed for Steve Wong, a biologist with a focus on ecological design. Steve and his late wife Jen had decided to move to Marfa to further their passions and share their love for sustainability. Steve is an avid gardener and loves to grow fresh food. He enjoys educating people on sustainability and has a love of sharing his knowledge. The Marfa Residence was designed around the couple’s life philosophy of sustainability featuring a minimal existing concrete block foundation footprint of only 500 SF. The house sits lightly on top of the foundation walls overhanging its floors to provide a modest 600 SF main floor plan consisting of an entry way, kitchen, living area, and a main floor bedroom with an attached full bath. A small stair leads to a guest bedroom on the second story with a covered walk out deck. An additional 100 SF is provided for the front entry porch as well as the 200 square foot southeast facing greenhouse integrated into the design for Steve to fill with life. The greenhouse was designed to be integrated within the existing foundation walls. The sloping of the site down to the riverbed provides an opportunity for the greenhouse to turn itself into a walk out level when a portion of the south foundation wall is removed. By integrating the greenhouse into the foundation walls, a mid-point height of 15 feet can be achieved for the nurturing of trees or green walls. Half of the greenhouse was dedicated to a main level space directly connected to the bedroom for Steve to have access to his plants when mobility is limited, and he can no longer safely take the stairs. Not only does the greenhouse allow for Steve to continue his passions in a controlled environment, but it also provides sustainability to the house. For cooler days as the greenhouse warms in the sun, the house is designed to borrow natural heat, filter it, and release it into the home. Operable windows are placed throughout the house to provide natural ventilation for the interior on warmer days. The residence also integrates a roofing design to collect any water runoff from the roof, filter it, and store it below the bathroom in holding tanks to be used for the greenhouse, bathroom, and kitchen.