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Dogwoodtrot House

Fayetteville, AK

The name Dogwoodtrot House—a portmanteau of “dogwood” and “dogtrot”—is more than a clever moniker. It is also an indication of the importance that Modus Studio put on the site for this new home in the Ozarks. Take apart the word dogwoodtrot, and you will see how site-specific architecture can be rooted in place while simultaneously forward thinking. First, consider the dogtrot house—a traditional one-story building with a breezeway through its center where, presumably, a homeowner's dog could trot. Here, Modus Studio mimics that form, using two brick anchors to ground the house. “We liked the idea of drawing on masonry,” says Chris Baribeau, principal of Modus Studio, “these really solid brickclad forms that would harken to the bluff lines that often occur in the Ozarks.” The north anchor holds the living room, kitchen, dining room, and master bedroom, while the south contains ancillary spaces including the garage, storage, and game room. The breezeway that rests between these structures—a 20-by-40-foot outdoor room—is the main orienting devise of the design and a welcome respite from Arkansas’s warm climate. Modus Studio designed it to replace the formally designed (and rarely used) front door common to suburban homes. At Dogwoodtrot House, both residents and guests enter through the courtyard. Next, reflect on the humble dogwood tree, which is so much a part of the house’s locale that Fayetteville hosts the annual Dogwood Festival each spring. At Dogwoodtrot House, Modus Studio compares the bridge connecting its two brick volumes to “a tree felled across a ravine.” The dogwood analogy is taken only so far, as this bridge is clad in vertical redwood. Large glass windows open onto a hallway on its eastern side, and four bedrooms and a study line its western wall. As one approaches the house from Dogwood Canyon Loop, the brick anchors and wooden bridge frame a steep, heavily wooded slope that ends at a ravine.

There’s a lineage here in northwest Arkansas, in ideas of the contrast of masonry and wood, and of being of the place, of the Ozarks.

 

The site of Dogwoodtrot House necessitated Modus Studio’s use of masonry to meet local guidelines. The architects could have used stone, or they could have followed neighboring homes, which use rusticated brick so as to appear old. They instead embraced the clean lines and dark colors of Vintage Black Velour brick. “We liked the quality that the brick-clad forms would bring to the project,” says Baribeau. “We liked the tautness that we would get out of the brick—really clean lines control the joints well and have consistency and sharp corners.” Modus Studio also appreciated how the material worked with the redwood. “The brick forms merge cleanly out of the hillside,” says Baribeau, “and we get a rich contrast between the harder clean material coming out of the earth and the warmer feeling of the redwood cladding of the bridge box on top.”

Modus Studio uses the same brick on a fireplace in the living area. The designers intend that the hearth centers the interior of the house much as the brick forms anchor the exterior. The singular use of brick for the fireplace complements the wood finishings in the rest of the interior.

The ideas behind and aesthetic of Dogwoodtrot House might suggest to some the work of Marlon Blackwell (born 1956), an Arkansas-based architect and professor known for work that celebrates both modernity and vernacular precedents. Baribeau worked for Blackwell before founding Modus Studio, and he acknowledges Blackwell’s importance to his thinking. He also notes the influence of Warren Segraves (1924– 1978) and Fay Jones (1921–2004), Arkansan pioneers of modern architecture. “There’s a lineage here in northwest Arkansas,” he says, “in ideas of the contrast of masonry and wood, and of being of the place, of the Ozarks.” In Dogwoodtrot House, Modus Studio takes this lineage and makes it its own.

Project Details

Location Fayetteville, Arkansas
Product

Sioux City Brick

Vintage Black Velour

Architectural Firm

Modus Studio

Completed

2016

Awards

2017 Fay Jones School of Architecture Alumni Merit Award

2018 AIA Gulf States Region Honor Award