Ascaya $9.5M home features rammed-earth walls

Updated August 13, 2018 - 2:49 pm

The beauty of Mother Nature commands center stage in Ascaya’s fourth completed Inspiration home.

“There aren’t a lot of homes that look like this in the valley,” Ascaya sales manager Darin Marques said about the home at 8 Vista Crescent Court in Ascaya’s Crystal Ridge, a Henderson luxury residential community.

“That is what they wanted with the inspiration homes, something that was going to inspire clients to take it to the next level when it comes to architecture.”

The community’s developer is CTF Development Inc. Designed by San Antonio-based Lake Flato Architects, the 7,850-square-foot, one-level, Z-shaped home lists for $9.5 million. Its unique design blends the natural landscape into the overall palette, resulting in a desert-modern architectural treasure.

“The primary material that defines the house is the rammed-earth walls,” said Lake Flato architect Andrew Herdeg. Herdeg was the design partner for the Ascaya home. “This massive, thick wall is reflective of the earth that is so present in the mountains surrounding Las Vegas and the hillsides.”

The 30-inch-thick walls, constituting 50 percent of the home’s walled surface, rise to meet the 13-foot ceilings.

Besides a unique natural beauty, the walls boost the home’s sustainable design by providing thermal qualities.

“The (earthed walls) were employed in locations that best framed one’s impression or experience of the home,” Herdeg said. “The rammed-earth walls are used primarily at the entrance, within the entry, living and family rooms and around the courtyard, so the perception is that the walls constitute about 80 percent of the home.”

Creating the perfect color for the walls required testing 10 different local aggregates. It took several mock-ups before the final mix was selected.

“It is 75 percent gold/tan and 25 percent deep red,” Herdeg said. “If it were too pink, too brown or too gray, it would have felt cold or artificial. You have to have enough color so it still feels warm and it won’t fade on the exterior.”

Completed on-site, all of the mock-ups allowed the team to study the samples in the homes natural lighting and landscape.

Working with the late Rick Green as the national rammed-earth consultant, R.W. Bugbee Construction and a local rammed-earth installer, building the walls took more than three months to complete.

“It’s a very lengthy, costly process,” Marques said. “There are various layers to the wall. Just like pouring cement, they build forms and pour it one layer at a time until its solid. They do it all the way up until it’s completed.”

The walls, although slightly absorptive, require no sealer or protectant. A small amount of concrete added to the mix acts as a binder in the formula. A colored, dense concrete cap prevents moisture from penetrating through the top of the walls.

“One of the important benefits of the rammed earth is that the material is exposed on both sides of the wall, the exterior and interior,” Herdeg said. “Creating a consistent identity and experience for the home and, equally importantly, the material extends from the interior to the exterior helping blur the line between the interior and exterior environments and connecting people to the natural environment.”

Lake Flato chose the 1.93-acre triangular-shaped lot from three available options.

“We saw the triangular site as a challenge,” Herdeg said. “It forced us to have an attitude about the context that a rectangular lot may not have afforded.”

The lot’s shape offered the designers opportunities to orient the home away from the hill’s edge for privacy. It also provided the ability to incorporate distinctive design elements using the west side natural area of the community.

“Natural landscape close to the home is rare,” Herdeg said. “And we had natural landscape next to us that would be protected. Seemed like a wonderful opportunity.”

Herdeg explained how the Z-shaped configuration stretched out the bedroom wing northward to create a protected back courtyard, offering a defense against the hill’s strong winds and sun exposure.

“Our houses work very hard not only to capture the beauty of a landscape but also to respond in a defensive way,” Herdeg said.

“They allow you to enjoy the landscapes, views and get protected from the elements.”

Punched through the rammed-earth walls are strategically framed glass windows. These windows focus on the natural landscaping and surrounding micro environments.

“Rather than an experience of just the skyline at night or the valley floor,” Herdeg said. “You also have spaces that feel wonderful and private, like a framed view of the hillside lit up in the morning or at sunset.”

Inspired by the history of Vegas, Herdeg incorporated characteristics of midcentury modern into the design such as ribbon windows, large exterior overhangs, carport and butterfly roof.

Besides providing a pleasing aesthetic, the butterfly roof serves the secondary function of watering some of the landscaping. Herdeg said they positioned a window under the roof’s main drain so the owners could enjoy a rain event.

“It allows the rainwater to nourish the palo verde trees in a little bioswale,” Herdeg said. “It’s a way of celebrating the rain in a place that gets rain so infrequently. The advent of rain brings the desert alive, brings out the color; it’s something special.”

The home features five bedrooms, including a private master suite, three en suite bedrooms and private detached casita, six baths, formal dining, living and family rooms, large detached game room and four-car garage. Walnut wood, concrete flooring and glass tile enhance the warm, contemporary design.

A strong interior feature is its approximately 48-foot wall of floor-to-ceiling windows extending through the combined formal living and dining room. The window wall frames spectacular views of the Strip’s skyline, mountains and valley floor. An open-framed gas fireplace provides an unobtrusive central focal point of the room.

According to Marques, buyers in this price point want to purchase homes that are move-in-ready. Luxury designer Donna Johnson came onto the project earlier this year to select the home’s furnishings. She made her choices based on a neutral palette of white, gray, black and creams.

“The home has an organic feel,” Johnson said. “So we wanted to go with an organic contemporary design using a mix of metals in the house.”

Her design uses minimalist furnishings composed of linens and silks, accentuating with significant art pieces in key areas of the home.

The Lake Flato design is the fourth Inspiration home completed in Ascaya, a Henderson luxury community where more than 300 homes are planned.

The fifth home is under construction. The sixth is still in design, scheduled to break ground later this year with a 2019 completion date. The Inspiration homes range from 6,500 to 9,000 square feet and listed $6.5 to $9.5 million. The sixth home will be smaller at approximately 4,000 square feet with a $2.8 million price tag. Marques noted that as the available homes sell, and other phases of the development open, more inspiration homes may be built.

CTF Development’s vision behind the Inspiration homes, according to Marques, was to bring desert-contemporary architecture to the area and to design a unique community. Handpicking six top architects from around the country with an international reputation to design the homes, CTF paid to construct the homes.

“They (CTF) wanted every piece to be individual and unique to itself, like living in an art gallery,” Marques said. “They wanted to raise the level of architecture, giving something to the people building here a level to build to.”

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