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2018 MCHAP.emerge

Anna Maria Residence

Michael Halflants & John Pichette

Anna Maria, FL, USA

January 2017


Michael Halflants / Halflants + Pichette Architects John Pichette / Halflants Pichette Construction


Steve Collins / Collins Structural (Structural Engineer)


Ash and Noma Nainar


William S. Speer


The intent of the design is to reconnect the elevated house with the yard below. Instead of being elevated on piles, the house progressively meets the ground in a series of elevated decks. From the raised living space, the house first descends three steps to an elevated pool to again step down another half flight of stairs to a wood deck three feet above grade. The wood deck in turn steps down with stadium seating to the yard and the entry gate. This allows the house to expand to shaded exterior spaces visually connected to the interior. The design does not include a traditional backyard. The house faces the front of the site instead of the rear alley. As such, the entry sequence is adjacent to the elevated pool. To soften the approach to the house and to the elevated pool, a single 5 foot wide pool window offers a glimpse into the pool. The water becomes part of the material palette. In order to capture livable exterior spaces, a large portion of house facing the bay was carved out. To take advantage of the views and the northeast orientation, the front of the house is fully glazed with impact glass. In contrast, the third floor mass enclosing the bedrooms is punctured by simple punched openings. An additional steel shadowbox stretches the main bedroom toward the beach. The dark steel compliments the slate stone veneer of the pool walls two levels below. A striking contrast results from the white floating volume of the main bedroom hovering over the heavy dark mass of the stone clad pool.


The context consists of dense suburban development on a barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast. Throughout the island, small wooden structures and 1960’s ranch houses are being replaced by large single-family residences elevated on piles. The new island construction too often detaches residents from the ground. Many of the larger lots have been divided increasing the island’s density. This 56-foot wide parcel faces the public beach on Sarasota Bay across Anna Maria Island’s coastal drive. The land is the middle parcel of a subdivided lot with two adjacent properties also under development. An alley at the back of the site provides the vehicular access. The 3,500 square foot residence is closely bounded by its four setback lines and is elevated a full story to meet a high flood elevation. The views to the public beach are through the residence’s front yard. This same yard provides the pedestrian access to the house from the beach. The front of the property of faces northeast and the long view over the beach and Sarasota Bay. An alley shared by the three newly created lots provides access to the back of the site. The FEMA flood regulations prescribe that the ground floor only be used for storage and access.


The same practice designed and built the project. The Anna Maria house was the architect-led design-build firm’s seventh fully realized project. Except for the portion overhanging the deck, the walls of the house are of concrete blocks. To lighten the load, the main bedroom suite, which cantilevers over the pool deck, is built of wood with steel supports. The second floor living level is a continuous open space free of interior partitions. The space is uninterrupted from the back wall of the house to Sarasota Bay. Fully open without a single partition between the rear wall of the house and the glazing at the front of the house, all public living space enjoy a view to the horizon. Services are contained in a simple mass next to the stairs. The dark slate-clad pool grounds the house to the site. Elevated decks wrap around the pool to reach the living room’s sliding doors. The design balances the residents’ need for privacy and the opportunities for open views. The public living spaces on the second floor were conceived as a void between the enclosed storage level of the floor below and the partitioned private spaces of the level above. The more private spaces are located on the third floor in a series of seven enclosed rooms. Two double height volumes placed at opposite corners of the floor plan tie the levels together and add spatial interest to the circulation. A third floor office looks through the double height living down to the pool below and the beach beyond. An exterior stair gives access to the roof terrace, which functions as the private yard. A large cut in the roof offers a view down to the pool and the yard below.

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