Winner: Rural house of the year 2022. Lake Flato Architects has created a cool respite from the sun-drenched desert grasslands of far west Texas.
The project borrows from the area's earliest structures and is organised around a courtyard shaded by the dappled light of native mesquite trees with a small fount of collected rainwater.
To keep the house cool in summer and warm in winter, the structure is built of two-foot-thick walls of rammed earth. The house embraces the expansive landscape with lightweight breezeways and porches made of recycled oil field pipe. Situated on a low rise with dramatic views in each direction, it cuts a low profile, settling naturally into the desert.
Judges comments: "This house is such a respectful addition to the landscape. It's simple, considered and very well-executed in terms of the materials, with the use of rammed earth a particular highlight that roots the house in its landscape. For a rural house, you want to experience the surroundings rather than shut yourself off from them, and this project accomplishes that magnificently. At the end of its life, much of this house will disappear – dust to dust."
Architect: Lake Flato Architects
Project: Marfa Ranch
Read more: Lake Flato Architects