"These old bungalows had an insightful way of carving out a community in a sprawling city like Houston,” says architect Carlos Jimenez, looking down Willard Street in the eccentric inner-loop neighborhood Montrose, where new site-maximizing townhouses threaten to outnumber the original single-family cottages. “Their porches create a collective, a way of understanding a city street. We have to reinterpret that in contemporary ways.” On the block where he works and lives, the architect has created a “small urban community of three,” comprised of his own home, his architecture studio with an attached apartment, and, most recently, a new residential project.
Jimenez designed the 3,000-square-foot, wood-framed, two-unit house for a longtime friend on the lot next to his architecture studio. The building’s slate-colored brick facade rises above a trellis-like curtain of aluminum infill panels that form the door for Jimenez’s sophisticated take on a carport. (“Garages create bad habits,” he says. “You start accumulating too many things when they’re out of sight.”) Breezes pass through the south-facing metal scrim, which, when retracted, reveals a wide connection from the street to gardens that wrap around the side and back of the house. A gate of the same panels encloses the passage to the front door, providing an added measure of security while preserving a sense of openness.