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A 21st Century Farm :

Metal siding and roofing highlights a working horse farm

Posted 02/1/2010

Located among the rolling hills of rural northeast Texas, Lyday Farms is a modern working horse farm owned and operated by Gary and Sandra Fernandes. The farm,located in Honey Grove, Texas, about 80 miles (128 km) northeast of Dallas, sits on approximately 1,100 acres (440 hectares) of contiguous land populated with more than 20 ponds and lakes, and bisected in part by tributaries of the Middle Sulphur River.

The farm dates back to the 1830s and throughout the last 170 years, it had been actively used for agriculture and livestock.Today, the farm, which has been in Sandra's family for several generations, has a first-class reputation for its straight Egyptian Arabian breeding program, complete equine services and facilities, and premium hay products for the equine industry.

 

The Fernandes' lived in a contemporary house in Dallas designed by Dallas-basedWKMC Architects Inc. before deciding to relocate to the family farm full time after Gary had retired and began focusing his energy on a new passion, the breeding of Egyptian Arabian Arabian horses. With the move, the Fernandes' called upon WKMC to design a variety of buildings that were required to accommodate their active lives, including space for their guests and visiting children's families, in addition to facilities for the operation of the working horse farm.

According to Michael J. Malone, AIA, studio director at WKMC, the intent was to create a compound of buildings that would serve as a comfortable gathering place for the owners and their extended family and friends.

"The buildings were designed to promote a casual lifestyle oriented to the outside and activities, such as horseback riding, swimming, outdoor dining and cooking, and gathering," Malone said. "It was important that the buildings be appropriate to the setting, and despite their large size, blend with the landscape and appear to be integral to the surrounding environment."

 

Project Planning
The project took six months to design and two-and-a-half years for construction. According to Malone, a lot of time was spent trying to site the buildings. "They are located on the highest part of the site and look out across beautiful meadows and pastures to where the horses can be seen grazing. We knew we wanted the house to overlook the expanse of the property, but not visually dominate it, so we set the buildings on a series of terraces defined by stone retaining walls that allow them to be landscaped to fit into the site, eventually to be rich with plantings and flowers."

The owners and Malone wanted to use materials that were appropriate to the farm's rural setting. With most of the utilitarian farm and ranching structures in the area using metal buildings with various forms of metal cladding, it seemed like metal was a pretty good choice, Malone said.

 

"Metal also had the advantage of being extremely durable, requiring little maintenance and the owners wanted the house to be easy to care for and not require painting and other work to keep it looking nice," Malone said.

Malone said that they selected a prefinished gray color for the metal panels as a way to highlight the landscaping. A more silver, Galvalume was used for the roofing, eaves, soffits and rainware to reflect the intense Texas sun. "As it patinas, it has taken on a softer visual appearance, while not compromising its performance," Malone said.

Berridge Manufacturing, San Antonio, supplied 14,000 square feet (1,301 m2) of corrugated wall material and 15,000 square feet (1,394 m2) standing-seam Galvalume roof panels for the project. The roof panels were rolled on-site as continuous panels.

 

Barn Designs
The first building WKMC designed was the barn, home to the Fernandes' initial group of horses. While Malone had never designed a barn before, an experienced horse staff member made a sketch of what he thought was needed in terms of a barn, and that acted as the program and technical design guide for the project. Malone said that the Fernandes' did not expect him to design a traditional barn, but one that would be readily recognizable as a farm structure, fully utilitarian and comfortable for them to use.

Gary took Malone on a tour of the area to show him a number of rural buildings that were characteristic of the region and had elements that could be used as design inspiration.

 

"One dominant feature of virtually every farm building was the use of metal-generally corrugated-as cladding for the roof and walls," Malone said. "Most of the older structures had wood frames, but the newer ones utilized pre-engineered building elements for the combination wall and roof framing. Many buildings also had the signature double-sloped roof, the result of a standard gable building with later shed additions to the long sides, leaving the gable ends open for doors and access to hay lofts."

With these visual clues, Malone designed a barn with a center aisle that went from one end to the other with symmetrical stalls opening off each side. Each of the stalls had a door that opened into an attached fenced area, or rut-out pen. The barn was structured with heavy timber columns and beams that spanned the center aisle. Decking for th hayloft was set on the beams, which were accessed from large upper doors on both gable ends.

Two large porches for seating and shelter from the sun flank each of the two opposing main entries, on each of the building's four corners. The porches created comfortable places to sit in a rocking chair and watch the activities on the farm, according to Malone. The porches use heavy timber columns and beams for support and WKMC designed all of the metal fittings that connected the various structural members together.

 

The double-sloped gable roof was supported on exposed and extended rafters, with the ends carved in the shape of a horse's head. The roof thickness is expressed as a part of the design and is actually a sandwich of decking below and plywood on top, with two-by-eight framing members running both ways and forming a cavity for insulation. The roof and its exposed edges are covered in paint-grip galvanized standing-seam metal.

The barn's exterior is clad in corrugated metal, prefinished in gray, which was also chosen as the color for the paint of the wood columns, beams and exposed trim.

"Our idea was to have the buildings be as color neutral as possible to allow the green of the grass and trees dominate the visual image of the site," Malone said.

A water table of local stone, with irregular pieces set in a heavy mortar backing, are installed around the building's base, creating a durable buffer below the corrugated metal cladding that would be impervious to splashed mud and water.

 

According to Malone, WKMC also designed a number of odds and ends around the property, including two sets of signature entry gates for the house and horse farm. The resulting barn structure and its accessory parts became the full-scale mock-up for the primary design concepts, as well as all of the details and finishes for the completed house.

Residential Living
The largest of three buildings that form the residential compound, the main house is located approximately 1/4-mile (0.4-km) from the barn, within clear view of it and the adjacent horse paddocks. Located near the highest elevation of the property, the buildings take advantage of the sweeping views across the pastures and lakes. Additionally,the buildings form a three-sized quadrangle that encloses and defines an inner courtyard. Stone retaining walls terrace the site, while the house and accessory buildings are set at various elevations on building pads edged by stonewalls. The open fourth side is defined by a low retaining wall with a cascade of stone steps leading up to a parking area that is accessed off the main road and is the primary route for arriving guests.

The main house is two buildings divided by a dogtrot and connected under one continuous roof. One portion has the living room, dining room and kitchen, along with two guest rooms, associated baths and utility rooms. The master suite with its own sitting room and screen porch sit on the other side of the dogtrot. Both the house and master suite are entered from doors in the dogtrot, which allows easy movement back and forth in any kind of weather, while also enabling the master suite to be private from the main house when there are guests. The main rooms-living, dining, master bedroom and sitting area-all face south and are parallel to the screen porch, which is directly accessed by several pairs of French doors, providing an opportunity for opening the rooms to breezes in pleasant weather. The living and dining rooms are divided by a monumental stone fireplace that is made of the same material as the retaining walls, water table and house foundation.

"As with the barn, the exterior of the house was again clad in prefinished corrugated metal and the roof in standing-seam Galvalume," Malone said. "The horse head rafter tails made their appearance again, as did the heavy timber framing of the porches. All of the exterior porches were provided with stone flooring, durable and handsome, which also matched the fireplaces and foundation of the house. All of the walls, floors and ceilings were clad in tongue and groove wood siding, all of which was ultimately painted. The siding added a horizontal linear texture to the interior walls, completely appropriate to the refined rural aesthetic we were working to develop for the buildings."

In addition to the main house, the project included a stand-alone guesthouse with two suites with sleeping and sitting areas, separate bathrooms and screened porches. A raised entry porch off the courtyard-large enough for sitting-can be accessed from the stone steps, but also has a set of rear doors off the screen porches for more private comings and goings. The guesthouse is finished identically to the main house, differing only in scale.

The final building of the residential complex has three separate functions under one roof. Containing a studio, office and garage,the building has large windows with views to the south overlooking the pastures and barns beyond. The studio has north-facing windows and its own fireplace.

Off the main house is a swimming pool with stone edge, set flush with the grass. The green lawn space around the pool allows for gatherings and is in close proximity to the house and screened porches. An outdoor cooking and dining area is located adjacent to the pool, covered by a trellis structure, shaded with vines.

"As the landscaping added around the buildings continue to mature, it will overgrow and soften the retaining walls, blending them into the site," Malone said. "The gray buildings recede, yielding to the landscape its role as the primary feature of the site. The buildings become backdrops, quiet, contemplative, shady places to sit and be sheltered from the sun. The resulting complex, though large, is fully integrated into its surroundings and an appropriate expression of an orderly, modest rural lifestyle and gathering place for an extended family."

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