Monday, March 31, 2008
House on 21st Street
House on 21st Street in Lubbock, Texas by Urs Peter Flueckiger
Corrugated steel and West Texas certainly aren't strangers, but in the case of residential architecture they're not the type of bedfellows that industrial buildings make. Texas Tech University professor Urs Peter Flueckiger's decision to build his 2,750sf house in Lubbock out of the material -- painted bright red, no less -- did not sit well with his neighbors, who see the material as appropriate for barns and sheds, not houses.
Situated on a 50x150 (15x45m) foot lot, the house is an elongated "C" (or "U", depending on how you look at the plan) with every room opening to a courtyard, a traditional parti for the area. This grassy space is bordered on the long side by a bamboo pergola, which provides shade for the house's living areas and bedrooms; the husband and wife studios occupy the short sides at opposite ends of the open space. Inside the husband created custom furniture and the wife placed splashes of color throughout that pick up on the trees outside.
The decision to use corrugated steel and other inexpensive materials in the construction of the house stemmed from budget concerns. Amazingly the house was built for only $51/sf. Other material and design considerations include concrete block for some walls, a similar corrugated steel for the roof, standard sliding doors, bamboo mats for the pergola, concrete floors, and clerestory windows instead of skylights.
Ultimately the house is greater than a sum of these parts. It is a restrained contemporary dwelling that recalls traditional southwestern architecture, while also expressing Flueckiger's affinity for the art and architecture of Donald Judd. While the influence of the artist is not apparent in the aesthetics of the house and its design, the simplicity of the plan and the pared down materials are surely aligned with Judd's boxes and other objects in Marfa. As well, each see the industrial context as something to embrace, not to dismiss in favor of something unnecessary, be it ornamental or economical.