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House #
House Style
Size Ft2
Year Built
General Contractor
Sub-contractors (significant) & Type
Peter Macapia NA NA
Primary E-Design Factors
Significant E-Products Used
Water conservation, retention, and storage.

Low visual impact/ high style

Uses ready made barn trusses for shell roof.
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The Texas Creek Ranch House

The Texas Creek Ranch House design was originally conceived as an off the grid lodge in California. Peter Macapia, the architect, scaled down the size of his design to 1500 sq.ft. in order to suit a single occupant. Although this house has not been built yet, it shows the potential for taking the idea of environmental conservation and consideration to a new level. The structure is built into the hillside. The hill above and behind the house filters water into storage under the house from computer generated rock and gravel swales. It does not merely conserve water with a roof catchment system, but handles water in the way nature would; or the way a terraced rice paddy sends water down in a zigzag, or a water course carves patterns in the dirt.The rock and gravel swales solve multiple design challenges of connecting site issues i.e., climate, topography and visual impacts on the shrub steppe of the Methow Valley. The swales deal with snow loading in winter, snowmelt in spring and lack of water in summer.The rock swale and gravel habitat around the house allows previous animal occupants to continue to use the land. The house is bermed quietly into the hill, with its front held lightly above the ground. One effect of this design is to give occupants a close, and intimate relationship with the land they inhabit.

Peter is interested the study of fluid dynamics to help understand how to look at architectural challenges in a new way. He does not just look at the surface design of a building. He is interested in “systems as an essential demand of architecture”. By studying the physical interactions of natural systems, i.e., water, air, and light, he is looking at building design from a completely different approach. On this house, for example, he is looking at the area of land needed to collect water flowing naturally down the hillside and the rate of its flow and how this information can drive the design. By “inventing the problem” he is searching for new ways to deal with planetary environmental challenges. The modest building size is an intelligent way to survive our crowded future. And he designed the house with an artist’s keen sense of beauty.

Some thoughts on the Texas Creek Ranch House:

•The house might use a combination of geothermal and surface water storage.

•The pillars might store water for passive heating.

•The shell roof could be built from ready-made barn frame systems or steel.

•Light would be brought in through the roof in unexpected and delightful ways.

•Water conservation would be designed into the house functioning.

•The house would connect you to the four seasons.

•The house would challenge and delight you in the same way as a good movie or piece of art.

•It would be modern and practical.

•The house would connect the various natural systems of water, air, light and energy in synergy with the architecture.

•Price is not a barrier to building this house.

Peter Macapia is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, the director of the Graduate Thesis program at Pratt Institute, and the director of Design Office for Research and Architecture.