Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
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BRING ON THE RAIN

Bellaire—a Houston suburb ravaged by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017—now presents its own special challenges for people who are building anew: It is a top priority to be prepared for the next hurricane. The San Antonio- and Austin-based firm Lake|Flato recently completed a project in Bellaire in collaboration with Natalye Appel + Associates Architects designed to accommodate the new reality.

The architects specified elevating the residence three feet above the ground to escape future floodwaters. The U-shaped structure also wraps around a courtyard (also elevated), creating a secluded outdoor retreat.

Flood vents, hidden beneath the house, release excess water during storms and subsequent flooding.

The house is also protected from Houston’s heat and sun: Big expanses of glass let in sunlight while broad overhangs provide shade from the harsh midday Texas sun.

In addition to the flood risk, the architects addressed a second challenge: The narrow site is flanked by neighbors on both sides; protecting the family’s privacy was a must.

The narrow lot determined the floor plan. Architect Ted Flato positioned rooms to edit out the neighbors; a central private courtyard suggests a private environment into which most of the rooms look.

The need for privacy dictated the exterior treatment of the residence’s two main volumes. One section—a two-story wood-framed pavilion where the bedrooms are—is clad in stucco. The other section is a steel-and-glass volume that contains the living and dining areas. The two sections are connected by a glass bridge that doubles as an office overlooking the courtyard.

Getting from here to there is easy via the sculptural steel staircase.

Gray concrete floors contrast with the warmth of the wood walls.

The public rooms—dining, kitchen, and living—are skinned in glass and steel so that they can enjoy a seamless connection with the outdoors.

A guest room overlooking terraces and a guest casita.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CASEY DUNN

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