Torcasso Residence Reveals its "Subtle Layers" in Texas Architect Magazine

"Once Rick and Cynthia Torcasso found this property and made the commitment to move from Dallas to Santa Fe, they went scouting for an architect who shared their interest in fitting a house into the dominant landscape. Conversations with Larry Speck, FAIA, principal at Page (formerly PageSoutherlandPage), convinced them that they had found a kindred soul. The ensuing design and construction process is a saga of high collaboration between owner, designers, craftsmen, and artist driven by the goal of producing a refined dwelling that both blends with its setting and allows its inhabitants to fully experience the ever-changing panorama of sky, mountain, and desert around it."

Heather McKinney, FAIA, writes in her article for Texas Architect magazine that the Torcasso Residence in Santa Fe "is masterful — and masterfully subtle — in its landscape." She notes three major factors in the design of the house, the first of which was to position the house just below the ridge of the hillside, allowing dramatic entries from two approaches.

Second, complementing the location and the siting of the house, was the decision to use rammed earth forms which incorporate four different shades of indigenous soil, creating a luscious palette in irregular sedimentary layers. These volumes extend into the interior furthering blurring the lines between inside and outside, and provide a perfect balance with the exquisite interiors designed by Page’s Wendy Dunnam Tita. Both interior and exterior walls of the more contained areas are made of air-entrained concrete and work with the rammed earth to create exceptional thermal performance for the house. 

The third significant move highlights this most recent collaboration between Larry Speck and international artist Margo Sawyer; the two had previously worked together on the colorful art boxes at Discovery Green. For the Torcasso residence, Margo designed two stacked cube compartments which subdivide the open living area between the rammed earth walls and insert subtle and nature-inspired colors inside the space. 

The Torcasso Residence reflects the spectacular landscape of northern New Mexico and celebrates the prospect of living in nature in a way that creates a constant and memorable connection to the mountains, the sky, the air and the climate of this extraordinary location.

Please click on the Blog Resources tab on the right to read the entire article, “Subtle Layers”, by Heather McKinney, FAIA, published in Texas Architect, May-June 2014.

The article is provided via agreement with Texas Architect.