Villa Blanca Farm
Lexington, Kentucky, 1981-83
A residence and Thoroughbred racehorse breeding and training farm built for Dr. Jesus Sahagun, former oil minister of Venezuela. The main residence is 8,000 square feet and a detached 2,000 square foot earth sheltered space serves as the Manager’s residence. Art from their 200+ piece collection, including Picasso and other Spanish masters was to be exhibited in the long, curving corridor/gallery on the north side of the house. The four stables include a show barn and training barn with 1/8 mile indoor track
The exterior is a controlled collage using regional brick and stone for a base upon which stuccoed walls are built as if rising from a ruin. The client preferred a Spanish character with wood trellises. The trellis features were made into passive solar porches. The property has an indoor “outdoor” swimming pool with terrace, fireplace, pool-area kitchen, and exercise room that re-creates the year-round patio life familiar to its Venezuelan owners. A tower (faced with a solar water heater) dissolving bands of brick, stone and stucco, freestanding walls and other romantic cues in the residence’s long wall suggest a villa recovered from a ruin. Brick, stone and concrete bands of the Villa Blanca residence reflect regional details woven into an energy-efficient fiberglass cement wall that provides reminders of the thick stucco walls of Venezuela.
A window at the entrance to the Villa Blanca residence incorporates translucent stones and stained glass. A sculptured lintel with horizontal banding in brick and concrete suggests a “time stream.” A glass window, pedestals for pottery, sculpture or plants. and a pedestrian approach through a romantic garden are heraldic elements used to mark this entrance to a large house.
The floor plan of the Villa Blanca residence shows a long, gently curving house facing south toward a view of the lake. Each room has a passive solar glass porch. Solar heat can be sent through ducts to supplement the mechanical systems or can be stored under the slab. Four separate zones reduce heating and cooling loads. Interior circulation is designed to allow the north-facing hall-gallery to act as a closed wintertime buffer. Deciduous trees shade the major porches in summer.
The separate residence for the Villa Blanca farm manager is earth-sheltered, merging into the landscape of rolling pastures and white fences. The house features a clerestory for through ventilation, which allows a generous pool of natural light to illuminate the circulation corridor. The continuous trellis along the south and east walls softens the facade, creates summer shade, and lessens the risk of a parapet without a railing. Closets and small enclosed spaces are kept free of the retaining wall to control possible mildew caused by Kentucky’s high humidity.
For the foaling barn, tempered glass sliding windows run the full length of each stall creating generous light and allows horses to look out. A simple skylight and gravity ventilation occur at the ridge. The main barn and office respond to the owners preference for a circular barn of Spanish character. The design incorporates a white painted brick wall, fountain and garden as a stage set to show thoroughbreds to prospective buyers.