With the Houston Modern Home Tour coming up on March 3, we wanted to get the inside scoop on this very unique residential community built by Dreamscape Modern. Centered in the heart of the Museum District, these homes help bring to life the artistic side of Houston. Fortunately for us, we were able to speak with the owner of Dreamscape Modern, Michael Wiglesworth.
1. What inspired the ‘Stacked Box’ design of these homes?
As a self-proclaimed incurable modernista architectural nut, I went to NYC to see the new, New Museum that was built in the Bowery neighborhood on the lower east side of Manhattan. What I saw was unbelievable… magically stacked boxes, literally off kilter, that glowed at night! Created by the Japanese architect alchemists of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA the building danced with intricate use of variation, unevenness, and off-centeredness that emphasized a relationship of architectural elements not as discrete entities along a single axis, but rather how they relate to one another… and through brilliant use of translucent membranes, the boxes glowed at night! Ignoring the artwork, I instead marveled at the construction, looking at the ceilings, seams, finish, and overall engineering design feat! (i.e. the guard sniggered and said ‘another architect checking us out’). I had an extremely hard time walking away, stopping and staring one more time, letting the glow boxes fade away within the tree-lined streets and buildings of the east end. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to do something with stacked boxes.
2. How does a contemporary residential community such as this fit in with the surrounding Museum District of Houston?
The lifestyle positioning of the entire community is targeted to modern design aficionados. This psychographic is very culturally art oriented. The Museum District is home to 15 museums drawing over 5 million visitors a year (note the new Asia House Museum/meeting center opening next month designed by the Japanese architect who created the NYC MOMA addition…a Miesian masterpiece!). Hence the marketing mantra of The ART COLONY…ART IN ARCHITECTURE ™…EG “modern architecture is the ultimate art form…clean, bold, minimal…express yourself”…Locationally, the ART COLONY is within 2 blocks walking distance to the museums. To assimilate the art forms in architecture, no detail was spared…from the ‘stacked box’ design, the ‘glow box’ on roof, the sidewalk art, the glow lighting of the driveways and entrances, and the pop art. They’re all incorporated within the community as well as a marquee ART COLONY sign.
3. If you had to pick a main feature of the home that you think people should pay most attention to, what would it be?
Inside/outside living…over 1,500 SF of additional cantilevered outdoor entertainment/lifestyle areas inclusive of living room glass to outdoor areas, bedroom decks and a complete roof deck with summer kitchen, hot tub and wet bar framed by city views. The lighting is dynamic with outside under-mounts and up-lighting on all the overhangs, driveway and walkway LED lights as well as a glow box on the roof all controlled by Luton RA systems.
4. One common theme among contemporary architecture is environmental sustainability. How do these homes help live up to that theme?
The houses utilize sprayed-in foam insulation as well as low-E argon glass windows and doors. A tankless water heater also saves energy. Additionally an efficient 15 SEER heat pump/dual zoned AC system is utilized for optimum energy efficiency.
5. Since this is a residential community, how does the design of these homes help utilize the property space?
They are extremely spacial utilizing a cross T- layout that provides a sense of horizontally while being a vertical 3 story house. The houses are clustered together, each on 2,500 SF footprint . They share a common driveway as well as accent fences between the houses. The ensuing 10 homes will be the largest modern new home community in Houston.
6. What place do you think contemporary architecture has in Houston?
The future is now for modernism in Houston….no more cookie cutter Spanish colonial houses, no more 10,000 sq. ft McMansions…simple, well designed yet bold define these smart houses for smart people…you are what you live in…once you go modern, you never go back! Houston has had its past share of modernism residential architecture from Phillip Johnson’s deMenil house to Nuehaus and Taylor, and Howard Barnstone The gulf climate lends itself to modern, low story homes centered around the pool, interior court yard, etc. The demand for better, smarter and ‘cool’ living is here, especially in the under-developed, strategically located and value priced Museum District.
To get more information on The Art Colony or to see other projects by Dreamscape Modern, check out their website here.