Barrio Historico House, Tucson, Ariz.
HK Associates
Tucson, Ariz.

This modern interpretation of a traditional house in Tucson, Ariz., captivated the judges. Its modest proportions, all-white exterior, and courtyard plan evoke the vernacular buildings of its tightly woven neighborhood, Tucson’s Barrio Historico. But by refining each design element to its most minimal state, architect HK Associates created a singular dwelling. “I loved the adaptation of vernacular motifs and the reduction of those motifs to what is essential,” said a judge. “It doesn’t hew to the standard kit of parts.”

Principals Kathy Hancox and Michael Kothke wanted to make a house that would engage with the desert’s ever-changing sky. “We tried to do things that would create an atmosphere,” Kothke says. Adds Hancox: “The white is kind of like a canvas for the sky.” The courtyard’s lap pool shimmers in the sun, reflecting off a back-painted glass soffit. A corner skylight in the living room balances out the light coming from the courtyard without compromising privacy. And a low-tech periscope window above the kitchen cabinets brings in distant mountain views. These seemingly small moves create a constantly shifting interplay of light and shadow.

Solar orientation, strategic shading, and rooftop photovoltaic panels keep the owners’ energy bills low. Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) ensure quiet interiors, despite the home’s location on a fairly busy street. The soft gleam of poured concrete floors complements white interior walls and rift-sawn white oak built-ins. “This house really, truly seems to incorporate light as a material,” one judge said.

View all 2013 RADA winners.

Project Credits

Principals in charge/interior designers: Kathy Hancox, Michael Kothke
Landscape designer: Gardening Insights, Tucson
General contractor: Saavy, Tucson
Project size: 2,100 square feet
Site size: 0.1 acre
Construction cost; $200 per square foot
Photographer: Bill Timmerman

Product Details

Bathroom fittings: Hansgrohe
Bathroom fixtures: Toto USA; Wetstyle
Cabinetry: Custom by DaVinci
Cooktop: Wolf
Countertops: Corian
Dishwasher: Bosch
Glazing: PPG
Hardware: Epitome
Insulation: BuildBlock
Kitchen fittings: Paini
Kitchen fixtures: Kindred
Lighting: Nora Lighting; Alkco
Oven/range: Wolf
Paints/stains/wall finishes: Dunn-Edwards
Refrigerator: Jenn-Air
Tankless water heater: Rinnai
Windows: Loewen