written by:
August 22, 2012

When architect Brett Nave and his partner, architect Kelley Bishiop, began developing the Heron Park neighborhood in the coastal town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, they managed to lay 1,200 feet of road through a forest and pecan orchard while only removing six trees. And when he set out the floor plan for A3, the home he and his wife, Kelley, and two kids now live in, instead of following the common practice of clearing the lot, completing the structure and landscaping after completing construction, he sited A3 to fit snugly into the lot in order to remove only three additional trees. Nave even pre-designed each of his 21 lots in the same way to minimize tree loss and maximize shading and breezes. These sustainability minded decisions to conserve trees and use narrower roads cost more money and take more time, but the added expense is worth it, Nave says.

Nave recalls potential buyers remarking on how most homes for sale in Ocean Springs are either historic homes—often damaged by hurricanes—or are standard tract models that lack character. Rather than a straight line of cookie-cutter homes, Nave's Heron Park is set amidst woods and three and a half acres of open park.
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“When we put the roads in we had to go through all sorts of dealings with public works, but the planning commission, aldermen, and the Mayor, Connie Moran, support the project so everything worked as we designed it. We were able to do narrower roads so we took out hardly any trees. Because of that,” Nave says. “Everyone that has come here says, “Wow, we didn't know anything like this was on the coast.””
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In addition to the shade from the nearby trees, the house stays cool with the help of Zero VOC closed cell foam in the floors, open cell foam in the roof deck and Knaupf ECO Batts in the walls. A 16 seer heat pump circulates the air when it's too humid for the open windows.Marvin Low E windows and Simpson Mastermark insulated French doors can be opened up to the screened-in porch on the backside of the house, which Nave says helps create a mood that is his favorite element of the house.
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The woods and careful siting on each lot create a feeling of peaceful seclusion, but those trees also play an important role in keeping his monthly power bill low.“There are tall trees on our south side, so when it's in the late afternoon we never get beams of light In this climate, you want to block the sun, but still get natural light,” explains Nave. “We also have passive ventilation so when it's not humid we can open the windows and doors and get good circulation. In the mornings in the Spring and Fall we're able to turn off the A/C and really open things up.”
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“In the main hangout—our kitchen, living, and dining area—it's a big open space and there's a screened porch out back and the way we set up all the windows you feel completely secluded. All the woods outside feel like they are inside.” The overall effect is a cabin-like minimalism that feels right at home among the nearby woods.
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In addition to a wife and two kids, A3 is home to Sam the dog, Skippy John Jones the cat and two mallards, Budreaux and Thibideau.
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Adding to this visual effect are the rich woods of the FSC walnut cabinets and Engineered Bamboo Nave used throughout the house in the flooring, as well as in a striking feature connecting the lower and upper floors. To help separate the kitchen from the dining and living areas, Nave used the bamboo on the kitchen ceiling. At the edge of the kitchen, the bamboo wraps the vertical wall leading to the stairs before turning horizontal again as the upstairs hallway ceiling and ending in the ceiling of an extra bedroom.
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Matching Nave's minimalist style are two oils by Austin, Texas artist, Meredith Pardue, which add simple color to the living room and master bedroom.
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Eco-friendly features include on-demand hot water, dual flush toilets and low flow faucets in the sinks and shower/tub.
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Nave's firm, Studio.BNA Architects didn't just design this beautiful home, he and his team built it, as well. “We actually pound the nails. I put the bags on and go out there and pound nails and break my ankle,” joked Nave. This hands-on approach is a key component to how Nave and his team prefer to work. “Our goal is to teach architects how to build because we think it makes you a better architect to know how the pieces go together and understand the role of the trades.”Asked if it was especially rewarding to live in a home he himself had built, Nave replied with a laugh, “It is, but it is also permanent torture because there's always those little gaps here and there and when you live in the place you see it all the time, so it's a little like a permanent reminder we can always improve!” Having heard Nave describe the beauty and serenity of A3 and the whole Heron Park neighborhood, one gets the feeling that this “torture” is the type Nave will be happy to enjoy for many years to come.
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mississippi house brett nave 004
Nave recalls potential buyers remarking on how most homes for sale in Ocean Springs are either historic homes—often damaged by hurricanes—or are standard tract models that lack character. Rather than a straight line of cookie-cutter homes, Nave's Heron Park is set amidst woods and three and a half acres of open park.

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