WAN House of the Year 2016 Award Winners Announced

Lucy Nordberg
Monday 31 Oct 2016

Casa Caldera and Walker Workshop awarded joint winners

We are pleased to announce the joint winners of the WAN House of the Year Award 2016, DUST for Casa Caldera in Arizona and Walker Workshop for Oak Pass House in Beverly Hills. Situated in very different and distinctive American landscapes, both houses exemplify designs that subtly complement and integrate with the natural beauty of their surroundings.

In its tenth anniversary, the WAN House of the Year category continues to celebrate projects that not only deliver originality and quality, but also display a commitment to creating spaces that improve people’s lives.

This year’s jury, selected for their expertise and experience, were: Chantal Wilkinson, Director of Wilkinson King Architects, Gillian Horn, Partner of Penoyre & Prasad, David Mikhail, Director of Mikhail Riches, Francisco Leiva, Co-founder of Grupo Aranea, Tom Kundig, Principal and Owner of Olson Kundig, and Marc Koehler, Founder of Marc Koehler Architects.

After an impressive longlist was narrowed down to a shortlist of six, the panel were faced with the difficult task of choosing the winning design. In this case, they were pleased to select two projects for the award.

Casa Caldera is an off-grid house in Southern Arizona’s San Rafael Valley, a remote landscape 15 miles north of the US/Mexico Border. Due to the location, self-sufficiency and security were key considerations in the design by DUST. The jury responded to the way the house references its surroundings, with Tom saying: “I appreciate the simple concrete bunker that submerges slightly into a dessert landscape, using discrete openings such as small windows, big windows, glass sliders and courtyards to connect the reserved concrete building with the site.” Chantal agreed, noting how the “modest home with its solid scoria walls seems part of the landscape.” Almost entirely custom built, features including the scoria walls, steel windows, doors, hardware, wood siding, casework and framing were all fabricated and installed by DUST.

Water is sourced from a well, while solar power is used for minimal electrical and appliance needs. Cooling is provided by natural cross ventilation through the zaguan and window openings, and wood fuel sourced on the property provides heating. Marc was impressed by the use of natural means to provide shelter and power, saying: “This seemingly simple and compact design creates the ultimate hide-out with minimal and natural means (using the sun, wind, earth, fire and wood). It is inspiring to see how you can create spatial poetry with carefully integrated, minimal and low-tech design means.”

In a contrasting location with panoramic canyon views, Oak Pass House in Beverly Hills was also created with an eye to the property’s adjacent topography and landscape. 130 protected Coast Live Oak Trees surround the house, and were the primary drivers for Walker Workshop’s design. David was immediately taken by the elegance of the property, saying: “It’s sophisticated and unusual. It’s beautiful and it’s connected to its landscape.” Francisco agreed, summing the project up as an “elegant, sober and refined construction of an inhabited landscape.” The top level is composed of an array of masses that contains the kitchen, living, and dining areas. Each of these components rotates slightly to frame a unique perspective, together creating a panoramic impression of the canyon from the inside. Chantal observed: “What an amazing journey, to have your views change while walking through.”

A sunken courtyard flanks the hallway, bringing in light and air from above, and creating a more intimately-scaled outdoor space. Bisecting the house, a seventy-five foot infinity lap pool creates continuity between the trees and their reflection. Chantal stated: “The upper floor of this house sits delicately in its rocky landscape of magnificent oak trees, which are reflected in the shimmering pool. Its manifestation is minimal and the majority of the accommodation is submerged into the hillside, allowing the site to take centre stage.”

We’d like to take the opportunity to thank not only the jury, but all who entered their projects into this years’ WAN House of the Year Award.

Lucy Nordberg

Business Information Specialist

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