Mood Ring House
Merit Award 2015
Marc Manack, AIA, Principal
Don Johnston PE
Mood Ring House is an exploration of how architecture can have different day and night presences with distinct experiential and spatial qualities. The “T” shaped volume of this inexpensive house, located in an eclectic neighborhood near the town center of Fayetteville, Arkansas, is born out of a mix of site limitations and opportunities, economic constraints, and programmatic requirements. With a skewed alignment to the lot lines, the siting preserves two established monumental trees, orienting the house to take advantage of north light from a clerestory, and south and west facing views of the immediate forest and the distant mountains, all while fronting the main intersection near the property. A live-work space, the house consolidates work functions on the ground, with a majority of living spaces above. The small base aids in reducing the footprint, preserving existing trees, and reducing foundation costs, which are at a premium in unstable Arkansas soil. The cantilevering upper level, in concert with the dramatically sloping site, gives views to the living spaces while creating a private enclave amidst the tree canopy. Beneath overhangs are a carport on the west facing front and an outdoor room on the east facing rear. The shed roof, open to the north, when coupled with an inverted truss profile, flood the interior volume with natural light. At night, illuminated soffits construct volumes out of projecting colored light from concealed LED fixtures. Colors are derived either automatically from the temperament of the house or directly by owners’ desire.
To keep costs down, the house is constructed primarily of generic, off-the-shelf materials, detailed to mask their humble character. The exterior envelope is primarily prefinished Hardi Panel and twin-wall polycarbonate. Panels were used in nominal dimensions (4x12, 4x10, and 4x8, respectively) to minimize labor costs during installation. Reglets between panels are inexpensive roof trim, powder coated to match the siding finish. Roofing is metal galvalume. The upper level windows are sliding patio doors and sidelights with interior steel and chain link railings. Cantilevers are accomplished with continual LVLs and engineered joists spanning between. The symmetrical balance of the cantilevers, and the relatively limited amount of openings, effectively turn the upper level into a box beam, allowing the unique floating form to be accomplished economically. Interiors are articulated and finished to enhance the expansive and overlapping relationship between spaces. A limited palette of whites and light woods are carried throughout the interior. Details throughout leave corners open to imply interlocking spatial relationships.
Emerging from modest means and a difficult site, the design of Mood Ring House exceeds its limits, imagining how both exuberant and demure architectures exist within a single project, and in turn, how those architectures have distinct character and form.