Barker Freeman Design Office’s new design for a home in Marfa, Texas, will keep its residents naturally cool. The multi-family dwelling is made up of three structures that are partially submerged in a rammed earth design that will harmonize with the Texan landscape. Complete with green space and a community amphitheater, the sustainable complex will center around internal courtyards that will give residents an escape from the desert heat.
Inspired by the desert landscape and rising rock formations in the Chihuahuan desert, Barker Freeman designed the Marfa complex to emerge from the ground like the local scenery. With this in mind, the architects turned to an ancient building practice, using rammed earth as a way to integrate the structures, while also using natural insulation to keep the interiors cool in a sustainable way. In the desert sun, the layers of rammed soil naturally draw heat out of the homes, keeping climate control bills lower than in other structures.
The units open onto a central courtyard constructed on an angle to create a potential performance space for residents to enjoy. A series of steps on a gentle gradation can double as stadium seating, as well as walking paths. The steps face outside of the complex, framing the Marfa landscape for residents to marvel.
Extending from the units and joined together in the central courtyard is a radial steel strut that collects precious rainwater and diverts it to a collection cistern. Using sustainable principles, the Marfa complex works with the Texan landscape to keep residents cool and comfortable in the desert sun.