Dezeen Magazine

Steel Louise house by SILO hero

SILO creates Steel Louise house for Charlotte neighbourhood with "dramatic contradictions"

US studio SILO has created a sculptural, metal-clad home in North Carolina for one of its principals that is meant to break away from the "suburban-type" development emerging in its historic setting.

The house belongs to Marc Manack, an architecture professor and founding principal of SILO, and his wife, Kallisto Vimr.

House in North Carolina with large windows and glass doors
SILO has created a sculptural, metal-clad home in North Carolina

After years of living in studio apartments, the couple set out to build a new home in Belmont, a historic neighbourhood near Charlotte's Uptown district.

Belmont has been transforming in recent years, with suburban-style homes popping up alongside modest dwellings that once served as worker housing for a local cotton mill.

House with large windows and openings
The house belongs to the studio's founder and his wife

With the Steel Louise project, SILO aimed to create a contextually sensitive house that contributed to the neighbourhood's "civic life".

"Our design opposes recent development that mimics suburban types," the team said.

House with large windows and openings
The team sought to oppose the recent suburban-style development of the surrounding neighbourhood

"Steel Louise is a single-family, urban infill house that reckons with dramatic contradictions between its site's past and present, becoming a private house with a unique public persona."

Square in plan, the two-storey home has a sculptural body with a variety of slopes, cutouts and openings. The form and massing respond to surrounding buildings, from the existing mill houses to new, two-storey residences.

A living space with angled walls
The exterior has a variety of slopes, cutouts, and openings

Exterior walls are wrapped in white corrugated steel, and a multi-faceted roof is covered with standing-seam metal.

The team carved out areas on both the front and rear elevations to form porches, balconies and recessed windows.

Black clad wall and angled wood ceiling
These cutouts help to bring light into the interior

"These voids, clad in black-painted wood slats and panels, are like inhabitable poché," the team said, referring to the technique of using thick, solid lines in architectural plans to denote non-livable spaces such as walls, shafts, and columns.

The voids help draw natural light into the 2,400-square-foot (223-square-metre) home while also serving as a "moody transition" to the bright interior, the team said.

An interior with wood panelins
Slender pine board covers the interior walls

The home's street-facing porch was informed by front porches typically found on historic mill houses.

One side of the porch was left open to provide a connection to a neighbouring house. Ample glazing enables views inside Steel Louise, in turn "giving the private house a unique and generous public appearance".

Person walking up stairs
A wooden staircase leads upstairs

Within the home, one finds light-filled spaces and an angular, vaulted ceiling covered with slender pine boards.

The ground level holds an open-plan kitchen, dining area and living room, along with a bedroom suite and garage.

A wooden staircase leads to the upper level, where one finds a primary bedroom suite, a secondary bedroom and a small gym.

"Each room is contained by a distinct volume that grows toward light and views," the team said.

Bedroom with sliding glass doors
A second-level porch was informed by the porches found on historic mill houses

Finishes include concrete and maple flooring and railings made of CNC-milled maple plywood. The kitchen features a black island made of white oak and granite and plywood cabinetry with white-painted fronts.

"Finishes throughout syncopate between light and dark tones, as well as smooth and rough textures," the architects said.

Living room that opens onto deck
The house is finished with concrete and maple flooring and clad in corrugated steel

The team noted that the house was built during the coronavirus pandemic, which introduced many challenges, including supply chain issues. SILO served as both the architect and builder on the project.

Other homes by the Charlotte-based studio include the Mood Ring House in Arkansas, which features multicoloured LEDs on the exterior that are controlled by a smartphone.

The photography is by Keith Isaacs.

Project credits:

Architect and builder: SILO
Structural engineer: IDE

More images and plans

Architectural plan drawing
Architectural section drawing
Architectural axon drawing
House in North Carolina with large windows and glass doors
House in North Carolina with large windows and glass doors
House in North Carolina with large windows and glass doors
House with large windows and openings
House with large windows and openings
Angled walls
Black clad walls
Black clad walls
An entryway clad in black
Living room with angled ceiling
Living room with gray couch and wooden railing
Person walking behind counter
Person walking behind counter
Wood ceiling and skylights
Room with wood clad ceiling
Bathroom with skylight