A 21st Century Farm :
Metal siding and roofing highlights a working horse farm
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
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.
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."
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 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,"
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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."