The Lighthouse is all about sunlight. In Houston, Texas, the oil, and hydrocarbon capital of the world this limitless solar asset is an abundant, largely untapped, undrilled natural resource available for free. This house knows where it sits under the sun. The residence is naturally lit through north-facing clerestory windows flooding the spaces with this indirect ambient, benign Texas light. Integral photovoltaic panels directly face the brutal southern and western sun exposures. These panels simultaneously shade and power this residence. In turn, the residence becomes a net exporter of electricity. The house literally helps power its neighbors. The earth beneath the residence geothermally cools and heats the house. Rainwater is captured in a 7,000-gallon underground cistern, and when purified, serves all water needs. This is an entirely self-sufficient residence. The structure makes an authentic statement about what real conservation looks like in an otherwise, nominally “conservative” architectural culture.
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Urban Design & Architecture Design Awards 2022
The Energy House
Future Architecture Built
Adams Architects, Inc.
Joe Adams and Gail Adams
3319 Virginia Point, Houston, TX, 77098
The interiors illuminated with this benign, northern light are made of warm bamboo cabinetry and bamboo floors. Interiors are supplementally lit with LED lighting. The balance of spaces is all-season, screened porches and breezeways, open-air rooms exploiting coastal prevailing winds. An exposed, prefabricated structure of galvanized steel frames the residence and secures solar arrays against inevitable, powerful hurricane, negative uplift. This is an absolute determinant in this Gulf Coast storm zone. The interior aesthetic embraces the honest exposition of this structure as merely demonstrating the “good bones” of this place. A zero-maintenance galvanized exterior steel skin withstands the corrosive action of the Gulf’s atmosphere, this region frequently referred to as the “Carcinogenic Coast”. The Lighthouse is Houston’s first LEED Platinum residence and is situated in a prominent up-scale neighborhood. The home and its owners have become vocal symbols and beacons boldly leading the way for more of its kind. Inevitably, this puts into question the irresponsible, large-carbon-footprint construction which sadly commands this region’s residential market.
Without apology and as an intentional agent of change, The Lighthouse makes its environmental ideas legible and accessible to the public. It accomplishes this by formulating a coherent, ordered architectural language uniquely its own, derived from those sound first principles of sun, earth, water, and wind. Accomplishing all this,
making enticing public statements about its technical and aesthetic merits, yet coexisting in scale, in harmony, and at peace with its inner-city neighbors was of utmost importance to the designers and owners. Testament to the fact this house succeeds beyond functional, technical, and prosaic expectations, the owners unequivocally profess:
“The best part of our hard-working day is coming back to the silence, light, and tranquility of our equally hard-working house. We’re forever grateful for the unexpected aesthetic, spiritual, and moral peace-of-mind we constantly find returning home to this place. Environmentally, aesthetically, we did the right thing.”