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Joyce Residence: Snyder, Oklahoma, 1959-60’s
The clients were a couple who owned a granite company overlooking the plains of Southwestern Oklahoma, and the site is a granite ledge 25 feet above an expanse of farmland, near the quarry. Sweeping views on all sides suggest the omnidirectional plan. Much of the pedestal of the house is granite masonry with the slabs cut and sized in the granite works. Cullets of waste glass are embedded with the granite. Great overhangs protect the glass from summer sun while allowing most of the winter sun to heat the granite floor. A wing for a carport, porch and terrace were originally designed to anchor the house to the rocky slope. Interior structural timbers came from an old school house. Welded black iron pipe forms a structural rigidity and design for the stairwell at the center of the house. A platform of random granite slabs establishes a base for the house, extending beyond the exterior walls on all sides to form a terrace. A sloping apron at the periphery eases transition to the natural rock. Low pyramids of blue-green glass cullets are at the base of the window walls with a taller pyramid of cullets in the central pool.
The house has two floors. The lower floor consists of a kitchen, dining area and living. the second level with bedrooms, bath and study. The octagon plan, the radial stiffening partitions and deflecting shapes give this house uncommon stability on a site exposed to the high winds of Oklahoma. The walls radiating from the center on both floors provide space both for furniture placement on the lower floor and for privacy on the second. Each floor consists of one continuous area that can he closed off or opened up with folding partition walls. Frozen downspouts are avoided by the dramatic rainspill that swoops down and directs rainwater away from the house.
Windows surround the lower floor on the east, south and west. Each upper floor window features its own exterior “hood” which provides shade and reduces glare. The “pyramid” on top houses the furnace and air conditioner. There is no need for curtains or shades in the house as the sun seldom hits the glass in the summer but shines in on it in the winter, making it easy to heat. Though the lower floor is walled with glass, the client reported that their heating bill was the lowest in their area. Despite only about 2,000 square feet, the client reported that as many as 40 people have gathered comfortably in the openness of the lower floor.
A large collection of stained glass windows, porcelains, Victorian and Swedish antique furniture and carved wooden pieces is incorporated into the house. Antique woodwork marks the entrance to a dressing/bathroom and relates to the heavily carved bed. Personal objects help us recover experience associated with the object, and when integrated with architecture, provide needed energy, dissonance and contrast.
(Photograph by Julius Shulman before the granite base, carport extending to the rear of the house with a two story screened porch and storm shelter were to be added)