Faculty Design - TB House

TB House

Rafael Beneytez-Duran & Ophelia Mantz, Texas Tech University


As both a practitioner and an educator there is not a strong division between these two activities in my work. My research is the foundation of my practice and vice-versa; my practice is a laboratory for my research. Teaching is a journey that involves the transition between both.

I would like to present this project as a conversation that juxtaposes several different canonical precedents. After guiding our students in the critical use of precedents through teaching, conversations, and discussions, we asked ourselves: “how many of the decisions made originated with voices that we admire from the past?” With this question in mind we realized, through a client’s description of a commission for a private home, that several canonical projects could be directly referenced. We began the project by translating the client’s spatial desires and descriptions with regard to a specific selection of precedents. We thought that later on we could modify them to transform our commission into a unique solution.

However, during the process we realized that the project was actually being made through the selection of the specific precedents. They began to provide a solution critically organized into a spatial framework that carefully addressed the client’s list of needs and desires. Without mentioning the projects specifically, we found that the following works could truly represent the expectations of the client: the Morris Greenwald House, Connecticut, Mies van der Rohe 1956, Courtyard Houses (studies), Mies van der Rohe 1934-35, Villa Savoye, L’Corbusier, Poissy 1929, Case Study Houses, 1945-66, Maison a Bourdeaux, Koolhaas, 1998, Two-way Mirror Cylinder inside Cube, New York, 1991, Dan Graham, Chatsworth Greenhouse, Paxton, 1836.

The skin wraps the whole, gathering together this Atlas of canonical precedents while providing a unique lighting behavior that holds together a romantic narrative. This narrative stitches together relationships between past and present. The skin is designed as a membrane that is made of multiples layers and promote breathing instead of isolation, connection instead of division. It modulates the surrounding environment: sun radiation, the fluidity of light, and the impact of noise which comes primarily from the highway and a nearby school.

This project juxtaposes all of these matters together without a focused interest in form; it accepts the risk of the ‘exquisite corpse’, heterogeneous conditions, and eclecticism that all together constitute our cultural logics and patterns. From the outside we could conceive of the project as a formal architecture, while, from the inside, the forms are dissolved without a center of gravity.

A few other voices from the past such as Constant’s 1957 work ‘New Babylon’, a project that emancipates life from the soil, and Sigfried Ebeling’s ‘Space as Membrane’ from 1926 are present throughout. These work together to reinforce the deeper meanings of the house.