Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Archimania is an award-winning architect firm known for their unique approach to contemporary design. Founded in 1995, the firm is a collective of designers and architects led by Barry Alan Yoakum, FAIA, and Todd Walker, FAIA.
As a collective, the firm has won more than 160 AIA awards. In fact, Archimania is ranked 8th best in design nationally.
Archimania has developed projects in virtually every category, from residential to education, cultural, healthcare, multi-family, office, retail, restaurants and recreation. The firm is known for delivering excellent design even when faced with tight budget restraints. Archimania has played an instrumental role in the advancement of progressive architecture in a variety of historical contexts.
While the firm has a number of award-winning projects under their belts, there are two in particular that showcase the beauty of steel and metal when used in contemporary design. We recently featured one of their innovative tiny homes and wanted to dig deeper into their projects and use of steel.
The A+M Residence was built for an active couple who wanted a simple, clean, tough and durable retirement home. The home sits on a cattle pasture in rural Mississippi, and serves as a retreat from busy city life.
The home is primarily defined by an exaggerated linear bar, which creates a long, clean line when viewed from afar. The exterior is clad in galvanized metal, which reflects the changing colors of the sky and landscape. The shape, materials and profile of the home also blend in with the tall grass of the pasture.
The home’s entry includes a courtyard, which is framed by a screen porch and a carport. The rear covered porch, screen porch and outdoor dining areas extend to the interior space for seamless outdoor entertaining. A gallery leads visitors through their outdoor journey under a deep overhang along the pool’s edge. All of these features were implemented to satisfy the owners’ love of swimming, cooking, dining and entertaining.
The home’s interior spaces are organized in a linear fashion, so visitors and the inhabitants can enjoy views of the surrounding pasture from anywhere in the home. Archimania took great care when planning the location of the laundry and dog yard, as the owners are avid animal rescuers.
The A+M Residence also has a storm room, which has been centrally located for easy access in an emergency situation. The room features a concrete ceiling and walls to protect its inhabitants. It also doubles as a wine cellar.
The architect’s use of metal allows the home to blend in with other old barns in the region, but it also satisfies the homeowners’ desire for a durable, strong home. In a region where tornadoes and strong storms are common, the storm room and home’s metal exterior will offer additional protection against strong winds and hail.
House on the Bluff
The firm’s House on the Bluff project is a single-family home designed for a couple who wanted sweeping views of the nearby Mississippi River. Making a transition from suburban to urban life, the couple purchased the downtown lot because of its stunning views of the river and Arkansas delta.
The exterior of the home features a corrugated metal skin and fiber-cement siding. In addition to being low maintenance, these materials blend in perfectly with the nearby industrial warehouse buildings. They also improve the durability of the home without sacrificing style.
Visitors are guided to the home by a stone wall, which leads past an entry garden and pool. The path leads to the vertical circulation zone of the home. Once inside, the height of the stone wall grows and becomes the central focal point of the home. The dramatic stone wall serves as both structure and art.
Archimania kept openings to a minimum when designing this home, whose shell wraps over the top to create a dramatic vertical space above the stairwell.
The stone wall leads visitors to the home’s western façade, where you are enveloped in views of the nearby river thanks to a soaring glass wall. The double-height space leads to an elevated outdoor terrace. Views of the river follow to the southwestern area of the home, which bends below a trestle bridge.
Care was taken when determining the scale and materials for the home to ensure that it blended with its surrounding environment, which includes buildings of different heights, abandoned lots and commercial structures.
The home makes a statement without swallowing up the nearby buildings. The glass and metal components allow the inhabitants to bring the beauty of the outdoors indoors without sacrificing durability or practicality.
Both of these Archimania projects highlight the durability and practicality of metal and steel in home architecture. But they also demonstrate how these otherwise harsh materials can be transformed into something warm, welcoming and beautiful. In contemporary design, the use of metal and steel can sometimes create cold, rigid spaces, but Archimania has managed to use these materials in innovative yet familiar ways.