PaperCity Magazine

September 2014 - Houston

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BY BEN KOUSH. PRODUCED BY MICHELLE AVIÑA . PHOTOGRAPHY JACK THOMPSON AND JENNY ANTILL . STYLED BY CATHY ECHOLS. PERFORATED THE HOUSE P erched on a long, narrow lot in the Houston Heights — a community established in 1893 that's known for its Victorian houses, both actual and faux — the house is almost entirely clad in horizontally corrugated metal sheathing, which, according to the architects, echoes the texture of the washboard siding on several of the nearby original houses. Houston Heights deed restrictions mandate that the house sit on a two-foot-tall pier-and-beam foundation. This understructure, made of steel (which the architects call the "chassis") was selected so that the front 15 feet or so of the house could cantilever to avoid excessively damaging the roots of a mature sycamore tree. Conceptually, it is a radical reworking of the vernacular southern dogtrot house. Typically formed out of two single-room log cabins separated by a breezeway covered by a continuous gabled roof, it is the archetypical hillbilly house, usually equipped with a handful of sleeping hound dogs to guard the moonshine. Such lowly cultural references were avoided by modern architects in the 1920s through the 1950s, who believed that a rigorous interpretation of functionality could not help but result in original designs that owed no allegiance to the past and certainly not to vernacular typologies. This rigidity relaxed in the 1960s, when Post-Modernists realized that historical references were more readily understood. In Houston, Renzo Piano's poetic incorporation of continuous porches at The Menil Collection in the 1980s and Brett Zamore's Shot-Trot (shotgun + dogtrot) houses of the 2000s were two of the most publicized examples of this approach, which has now become one of the key strategies of reconciling modernist design with history. The dogtrot is one of several traditional American dwelling types that were adapted for the warm, humid climate of the Deep South. Other well-known examples include the Creole townhouses of New Orleans, the single houses of Charleston and, closer to home, the southern townhouse as it was developed in Galveston until the storm of 1900. When asked "Why a rustic, rural type over a sophisticated, urban one?" Logan explains: "We were interested in the capacity of the breezeway to 'pull' exterior space through the interior of the project … It also created an interesting layering of interior and exterior space that helped to break up the length of the project, as it folded under and over the multiple breezeways." LOJO teases out the underlying logic of the dogtrot building type so much so that the result becomes almost the prototype of a new house type altogether. Adherents to the "more is less of a bore" theory of design, Logan felt that if one dogtrot is good, then four are better, quadrupling the dogtrot's singular breezeway. LOJO also casually stacked and staggered the four dogtrots over two levels to ensure they would be in close proximity to the maximum number of rooms. The dogtrots, most of which are glassed on one or more sides, become visual extensions of the interior rooms to which they are appended. This creates a complex section with multilevel, interlocking enclosed and open spaces that is not immediately apparent from the simple exterior DESIGNED BY HOUSTON-BASED ARCHITECTURAL FIRM LOJO, WHERE HOMEOWNER JASON LOGAN IS PRINCIPAL, THE PERFORATED HOUSE COMBINES VIRTUOSO FORMAL COMPOSITION, A MULTIFACETED CONCEPTUAL PROGRAM AND SOME TRICKED-OUT DETAILING IN A COMPELLING AND SATISFYING MIX. AND, YES, THE PERFORATED HOUSE IS LITERALLY AND THEMATICALLY PERFORATED. One of the four dogtrots runs through the multilevel living area. Painting is Lane Hagood's Earth Web, 2014, from David Shelton Gallery. Cassina Nest sofa and Zap coffee table, both from Sunset Settings. Eames bentwood plywood chair from Herman Miller (available at Kuhl-Linscomb). Meg bentwood side table from Design Within Reach. Paolo rug from Crate & Barrel. Missoni's Ojus pillow on sofa from Internum.

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