Predicated on the need to respond to a compound climate with aspects of hot-humid and cold conditions, the project utilizes a number of passive design strategies. Under both climatic extremes, the west and northwest are most impacted by heat and cold, resulting in a conscious decision to present a solid façade with minimal fenestration in that orientation and to place support spaces on that side of the home.
The house wraps around a square spiral stair that rises from the bedrock below to an eyrie above the roof with a stunning view of the Guadalupe River valley below. This stair tower serves to organize all spaces and create a multilevel plan; it provides for illumination to interior spaces; it promotes natural ventilation and cooling through enhanced convection; and during winter months it accumulates hot air that rises towards the top of the tower where it is recirculated mechanically throughout the house.
An attached greenhouse serves as a winter heat source, separated from the residence by a massive heat sink that boasts large glazed openings to permit direct gain to the living spaces. Operable windows promote summer cooling and removable shadecloth reduces summer heat gain.