A Celebration of Light b y E d S o l t e r o , AIA
p r o j e c t Mansfield c l i e n t Dr.
Residence, El Paso
and Mrs. Lyndon Mansfield
a r c h i t e c t NINE
DEGREES architecture + design, Inc.
d e s i g n t e a m Cesar Molina, AIA; Isela Molina; Clarissa Molina; Daniela
Molina; Javier Gutierrez; Rigoberto Molina; Edgar Molina c o n t r a c t o r Laramie
River Design and Construction, Inc.
c o n s u l t a n t s Ponce Engineering (structural); John Ziegler (mechanical);
Lorenzo de Santiago (electrical); Randee Mansfield (interiors) p h o t o g r a p h e r Fred
t e x a s
a r c h i t e c t
The Mansfield residence in El Paso was conceived from a fascination with the experiential qualities of light. Early in the design phase the couple expressed their interest in the genesis and propagation of light. Their personal appreciation of such is manifested through their extensive yet different collections of artifacts. An exquisite collection of menorahs defined hers, while his was embodied in a fascinating collection of cameras. The local firm 9 Degrees Architecture was first and foremost tasked with creating a place of living with the unique purpose of celebrating life each and every day. Despite their different interests, light became the binding force for the architecture and ultimately the intersection of their lives. On the one hand, menorahs give light, while on the other optical instruments need light. This apparent symbiotic relationship paved the way for the concept of the residence. A overlapping of two circles formed the simple diagram, albeit highly imbued with symbolism. Each circle, in effect, represents an individual life. A geometry, deliberately picked for its continuous nature— having no beginning and end. The intersection of the two single-story parabolas, which form the great room, illustrates the connection in their lives. The remainder of the structure is subservient to the metaphorical shapes, the points where light is collected and distributed about the many parts of the residence. Narrow, glazed slots in the parabolas allow intensely glowing beams of sunlight to penetrate the house at sunrise and sunset, particularly noticeable during the Winter Solstice. At sunrise, light pierces the western-facing parabola to illuminate the menorahs, heralding the start of another day. The symbolic introduction of light draws directly from Jewish ritual that celebrates a person’s life. At sunset, light is likewise channeled through the other narrow slot on the eastern-facing parabola. The rectangular body of light is redirected, reformed, and diffused through an opening in the opposing parabola and onto a translucent panel of glass that forms the gallery space. The parabolas are, in symbolic sense, woven together by the movement, penetration, and projection of natural light from one to the other—another reminder of the celebration of the couple’s union in life. The gallery wall supports glass shelving on both sides. One side holds another portion of the menorah collection while the other displays the camera collection. The juxtaposed silhouettes of each other’s collections are, in essence, an extension and yet another reminder of their interconnected lives.
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