The many functions of the Davis home are a reflection of the family’s unique interests and talents. Nestled into a hill overlooking Santa Fe and the distant Jemez Mountains, the house is designed to act as a family retreat and gathering space to support the clients’ philanthropic work.
Philanthropy is an integral part of the Davis family’s identity, so much so that they wanted to use their home as a space to raise funds and awareness for the causes closest to their hearts. At the same time, they wanted a home that felt comfortable and intimate when they were not hosting a function. Sometimes private, sometimes public, the family needed a space that would allow them to move between these facets of their life.
Functionality and landscape work in concert on the twelve-acre hilltop site. Santa Fe’s dramatic vistas, weather, and desert aesthetic draw residents outside and often play a vital role in shaping the built environment. The Davis home was a distinct opportunity to showcase the most timeless elements of local vernacular, specifically tailored to the family’s needs.
The site’s 360-degree views were a key asset, and the client wanted to maximize their prominence. Windows and sliding glass walls would frame the museums below and the mountains and ski basins surrounding Santa Fe. Big views and big spaces serve the functional needs of the Davises as hosts, but the design allowed them to live ordinary days on a more intimate scale. Breaking the roofline into modest lines and segments kept the building’s profile more residential, with vegetative roofs mixed in to carve up the expanse.
The rooms beneath unfold like a series of vignettes, some cozy and familiar, others grand and versatile. Separate wings devoted to entertaining and family living flank a winter courtyard, taking full advantage of the Santa Fe weather, which famously beckons residents to spend time outside.
Situated on the hilltop, the home’s outdoor spaces required some strategy to address their exposure to sun and wind, as well as their vulnerability to the huge diurnal swings in temperature typical of the desert. Overland relied on shade, cross breezes, and shelter in various courtyards to create seasonal spaces ideally suited for natural comfort. Building with traditional material captures the benefits of preindustrial architecture, when carefully placed stone and adobe had to provide the comfort people have come to expect from air conditioning.
Lightening was another concern. Overland designed the electrical configuration considering a one-mile radius of granite ground on a hilltop with frequent lighting strikes. Even greater concern was the desert climate, where water preservation is essential. Rainwater collection, drought-tolerant native landscaping, and graywater reclamation all contributed to the home’s systems designed to LEED Platinum standards. Overland was also able to incorporate effective solar power, even considering limits placed by deed restrictions. Each wing is zoned to run independently, drastically reducing energy needs when the event space is quiet.
The steep site also allowed Overland to work with other restrictions, such as the 14-ft height restriction. By setting the house into the hill, the design provided the needed visual space and atmosphere without disrupting the profile of the hilltop. In the end, the landscape and the life of the family perfectly integrated with the home on every level.