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Arroyo Colorado Residence

After a devastating fire destroyed their home and extensive art collection, the owners of this residence decided to build their own work of art on the exact same location. The home is situated on the bank of the Arroyo Colorado and is spatially arranged to take advantage of the views toward the water. As such, the arrangement recalls renaissance architecture and the use of the “piano nobile” - with principal private spaces arranged on the ground level and public spaces above offering elevated views of the arroyo. The use of dark clay brick at ground level contrasts the light plaster above, reinforcing the idea of a solid base, and grounds the building to the earth from which it came. The floor plan is stretched parallel to the arroyo maximizing opportunities to connect the interior spaces with views of the water. The interior spaces feature exposed structural wood lam beams, oak floors, and a stone fireplace. The exterior elevations and fenestrations are a direct response to the building’s site and orientation with windows minimized on the west, deep roof overhangs on the south, large expanses of glass along the water, and casement windows strategically located allowing the south eastern prevailing breeze to cross ventilate the home.


Playful design features include a single contrasting ebony stair tread (a nod to the way the owner prefers to wear her fingernails) that extends to the outside of the house and becomes a deep window sill creating depth on the façade, copper cladding on the stair tower that will naturally patina green as a testament to time, a block screen wall on the lower level paying homage to the regional vernacular, a Japanese influenced rock garden, and a glass box that floats off the northern elevation of the building. This unique element is the master shower where one can enjoy “uninhibited” views of the water and surroundings. Thoughtful sandblasting of the glass and the home’s secluded location make such a feature possible, and though it took some convincing to move forward with such a provocative element, it has quickly become the owner’s favorite feature of the house. A discretely designed solar water heating system provides plenty of hot water for the shower and all plumbing fixtures as well.

This residence on the Arroyo Colorado is more than just a home, it stands, where not long-ago laid ashes and rubble, and is a testament to the owner’s spirit and to the importance of place.

3,970 GSF, new construction

Project Architect: Chris Sias, RA

Rio Hondo, Texas

Structural Engineer: Casa Engineering, LLC

Photos by Onnis Luque

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