Architects: Tobin Smith Architect
Project: Otto Haus / 1954 One-Story House Redesign
Location: San Antonio, Texas, United States
Photo Credits: Mark Menjivar
Text by Tobin Smith Architect
This 1954 one-story house by architect Otto Ransleben was compromised by a clumsy two-story 1970’s addition that blocked eighty percent of the public core’s daylight, leaving it a cave-like shaft. The overhangs of the addition were stubby relative to the height and offered insufficient protection from the elements, causing this portion of the house to deteriorate more rapidly than the better-protected original structure.
The design challenge was clear – transform the unsuccessful addition into a compositional and functional asset, re-connect the original living room to the garden, delineate the original mass from the addition, and celebrate the spirit of the mid-century design while creating something fresh and new.
The design process was informed by collage – the art of re-using and composing disparate scraps into a meaningful whole. Operations including cutting, flipping, folding, and layering were used during the transformative process. The rear wall was cut open, original wood siding flipped, roof conceptually folded and extended, and a salvaged aluminum shade scrim suspended in front of the stucco facade as an axial entry sculpture and walkway lantern.