Inspired by the idea of ‘living within nature’, the design intent for this 6,500 SF residential project was to position 5 living and sleeping modules around a series of landscaped courtyards and terraces. The landscape is arranged to provide seclusion from the neighbors and nurture a sense of connection in the communal areas. Hedges create small and large gathering spaces, while Eastern Red Cedars line the back of the property and provide a green backdrop to the backyard views. The property line along the side of the house is buffered by a stand of bamboo that creates vertical height and provides a sense of privacy and enclosure.
The Bellaire house uses simple, vernacular architectural forms with custom porches and covered walkways that serves as the connective tissue of the detached rooms. The rooms, including the living, kitchen, dining and great rooms – where the family spends their time together – feature large expanses of glass, giving access to abundant light, which artfully blends the indoor and outdoor living spaces. The rooms wrap the site and delineate courtyards and a variety of flexible exterior spaces that maximize indoor/outdoor connections and outdoor living. In addition to achieving the owner’s goal of creating flexible exterior spaces that serve as an extension of the home, the outcome is an integrated, site specific design that fosters a close relationship with the landscape and improves the family’s quality of life.
The design at the front of the home reflects the clean, sustainable aesthetic of the house featuring a landscape composed of all native and adaptive plants, including Inland Sea Oats, Butterfly Iris, Ligularia and Frog Fruit. A Mexican Plum tree highlights an intimate courtyard and artistically stands among Macho Ferns, anchoring the main entry steps that lead to the front door, while a water feature provides visual interest and creates a calming environment.
Stormwater treatments are designed into amenities, like the rain chains which prevent the need for downspouts and become a water feature during a storm. To the left of the front door, OJB Landscape Architecture designed a beautiful rain garden to collect and hold water, while offering natural infiltration to the ground source. Decomposed granite paths along the side of the house contribute to the site’s 60% permeability and lead to the back of the house, which features a 4,500 SF flexible grass lawn for a children’s play area.
The linear pool serves as the focal point of the backyard landscape and stretches out from the central porch, made from FSC certified Cumaru decking. The landscape around the pool complements the pool’s style and shape, with a planting palette of various textures and native perennials. The goal is a unified landscape that enhances the home, pool and entire outdoor experience.
The Bellaire residence serves as a model for how home building and landscape can be designed on a residential scale to create a network of sustainable and high-performance landscape spaces, providing open space for functionality, shade for heat island reduction, and permeable surfaces and gardens that collect and slow down the Houston stormwater runoff. The site selection was previously a vacant lot with no habitat and poor soil. OJB placed a strong emphasis on providing a permeable site of up to 60%, which allowed for the implementation of the dense planting and other stormwater strategies.
The LEED Certified, single family home showcases an environmentally sensitive design that enhances the surrounding natural environment and helps to establish a fresh perspective for residential living, creating a sense of place and celebrating the outdoors.
Architect Collaboration: Lake|Flato and Natalye Appel + Associates Architects
Project location:Bellaire, TX
Design year: 2015
Year Built: 2016