The new residence of Rita Canan and Tom Cordova is a fifty-five hundred square foot modern one story home that rises from a gently sloping site on a picturesque camphor canopied lane in Winter Park - an edifice that inserts itself rather than asserts itself into the environment. Rita and Tom, both self-employed with teen aged children and inspired by visits to Palm Springs, conceived of a modern house where they could live, work, and entertain in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner. They wanted a house they could grow into that was elegant but informal, conducive to entertaining but did not labor the extraneous, and that would adapt to changing family dynamics.
The existing house on the site would be inadequate to accomplish the above program, but it was determined that what could be saved would be. Most of the foundations and existing slab on grade were saved. All of the 60 year old southern yellow pine roof framing was selectively demolished and Rita spent an entire summer removing nails, sorting, and stacking the 18 foot long rafters. No easy chore, this demonstrated to the builders just how serious Rita and Tom were about sustainability. The pine was eventually re-milled into 8" wide tongue and groove flooring and was used for about one half the floors. The remaining floors are sealed and polished concrete.
Clear heart redwood fascia and trim was also recycled. This precious and irreplaceable wood was used for the garden grille at the Entry and for a rainscreen wall at the head of the pool.
The site offered a favorable orientation that allowed an east/west axis with a southern exposure for almost all living spaces. A series of garden walls and courtyards were used to maintain privacy while allowing favorable natural light to penetrate to protected interiors. Deep overhangs protect southern glass walls from local heavy rainfall as well as solar exposure during the warm months while allowing solar exposure during the cool dry months of the year.
The need for air conditioning during the extremely hot and humid periods of the central Florida climate required a thoughtful consideration of all energy systems with an eye toward conservation. The house is separated into three separate spatial zones that may be individually controlled, each with its own system. Walls and ceilings are insulated with a sprayed-on, organic, non-toxic foam that thoroughly seals against air infiltration and minimizes heat gain. Mechanical ducts and lighting fixtures are inboard of the insulation to reduce penetrations and heat gain to the air ducts. Low voltage lighting fixtures are used throughout the home. All appliances have been chosen for high energy efficiency. Water heating is achieved through passive solar collectors with back-up, wall mounted, gas-powered on-demand water heaters. Underground provision has been made for a future solar pavilion with building integrated photovoltaic collectors providing 60 to 100% of the homes electricity.
The site is surrounded by mature camphor trees that also line the access road. These have been preserved for their beauty, shade, and history. The site has been designed to store all the incident rainwater in a flat zoysia grass planted area which will double as a volleyball court for weekend use by friends and family. The remainder of the site will be planted with drought resistant low maintenance and indigenous plants such as bamboos and philodendrons. Once the plantings are established a planned rainwater collection cistern will be used to provide water to the sprinkler system.
Natural materials have been used throughout the home. Concrete floors and countertops; wood floors, much of which have been re-cycled from the original house on site; sustainably forested roof framing and interior casework; locally forested exterior wood fascia, soffits, rain screen walls, beam covers, and running trim; and stone river rock protection on the roof are all natural, recyclable and non-outgassing. Low VOC water based interior and exterior finishes have been used throughout. Cross ventilation in all rooms, adequate outside air supply, and ultraviolet light and extreme filtering in air handlers further insure clean air throughout the home.
A profusion of glass doors and windows allow the dynamic Florida sky light to filter inside and cast its colors, shapes, and shadows on white walls that rise to 15 feet in the tallest space. The result is volumes of light. In response to the clients desire for the home to accommodate large or small gatherings in a variety of social and work settings; the central living space is continuous with the kitchen, dining, breakfast, and study spaces, each of which are defined by volume, ceiling height, and placement but through which one can freely flow. A 9'x16' sliding door opens these living areas to a screened veranda and then to the pool, pool deck and a courtyard beyond, further expanding the living space and creating places able to change on a whim with the weather or one's needs or mood. The floor plan provides a continuous sense of discovery as one wends his/her way fluidly through hallways of glass and courtyards to the inner bedrooms and study/office sanctums. Surprise inner courtyards reinforce the inside/outside relationship and allow views, access, and dialogue among different areas of the house. The sense of expansion and contraction, transparent and opaque, void and solid is constant in the house. It almost breathes.