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Photo by Eean McNaughton III

Photo by Eean McNaughton III

Photo by Eean McNaughton

Project Profile:
The site is located in Lewisberg, Louisiana, a historic settlement on the north shore of Lake Ponchatrain. The program is conventional - a family of four and their dog. The house is sited on a corner lot and placed away from the streets, enveloped by the landscape.

The design was strongly influenced by three factors: the natural characteristics of the site, climate and traditional regional forms. The owner was interested in maintaining the lush plant materials and trees on the site, a proposal enthusiastically supported by the architect and the contractor. The design uses the regional forms and traditions of raising the building above the ground on piers. This structural concept avoids abuse to tree roots and disturbance of the natural site drainage patterns.

The building form is strongly influenced by the vernacular camps built along the shore of Lake Ponchatrain over the last 150 years. Usually the buildings were a square or rectangular plan with screen porches on the perimeter and designed for natural ventilation. The design follows this typology. The sliding window walls and casement windows on the exterior of the house can be opened to provide cross ventilation. Skylights at the apex of the roof provide natural light deep into the center of the house. A copula ventilates the roof and the attic spaces. The design allows nature's sounds and scents to enter the house. With the assistance of the landscape architects, the owner has complemented the site's natural vegetation by adding native and regional plant material.

The typology for the house is the vernacular Lake Ponchatrain architecture, but the plan of the interior space is a variation on this theme. While the plan is the traditional square a diagonal wall breaks the interior of the house into two triangular forms. This is a counter-point to the tradition orthogonal room arrangements and provides an open, spacious double height living room with an adjoining screen porch. The owner's study loft is open to both the living and master bed rooms. The breakfast room thrusts out of the wall adjacent to the entrance to provide views of the garden, and a skylight at the top of the pyramid roof form captures natural light from above.

Owner: Dr. and Mrs John Nitsche

Area: 3,100 S.F.

Firm Responsibilities:
Prime A/E services, Custom furnishings

Completed: 1993