Besides Being Works of Art, These Custom Metal Shutters Master the Texas Heat

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By Helen Thompson
A motif of perforated metal is carried throughout an Austin home, lessening the harsh effects of the sun.

In designing a new home outside Austin, Texas, architect Tim Bade of Brooklyn-based Bade Stageberg Cox used a number of tried-and-true strategies to help thwart the area’s notorious heat. Big overhangs, rooms that open onto a central courtyard, and siting in a stand of trees all guaranteed a certain amount of protection from the sun. This was crucial because, in summer, Texas can sizzle for days on end at temperatures that surpass the 100-degree mark. The intense heat was a revelation to Austin newcomers Erik and Kelli Petrik, who moved there from Colorado. "What most people don’t realize," says Erik, "is that the heat doesn’t let go."


Besides Being Works of Art, These Custom Metal Shutters Master the Texas Heat - Photo 1 of 7 - In Austin, artisan Brian Chilton used a water jet to cut holes into aluminum to make shutters, a carport screen, pool gates, and more.

In Austin, artisan Brian Chilton used a water jet to cut holes into aluminum to make shutters, a carport screen, pool gates, and more.

Besides Being Works of Art, These Custom Metal Shutters Master the Texas Heat - Photo 2 of 7 - The carport screen is dotted with different-size openings, some louvered.

The carport screen is dotted with different-size openings, some louvered.

But Bade also tried something a bit more artistic. Working with local furniture maker and metal fabricator Brian Chilton, he devised a solution that’s both practical and attractive: a system of perforated 1/8-inch-thick, 10-foot-tall aluminum shutters that provide sun control in the upstairs rooms. Carried throughout the house as a motif, versions of the perforated design are also used for a carport screen, various gates, the planter boxes, and exterior light fixtures. "We were interested in taking the idea of shadow and looking at it in different ways," says Bade.  

Besides Being Works of Art, These Custom Metal Shutters Master the Texas Heat - Photo 3 of 7 - The motif is expressed in weathered steel for a gate.

The motif is expressed in weathered steel for a gate.


Besides Being Works of Art, These Custom Metal Shutters Master the Texas Heat - Photo 4 of 7 - Light passing through the perforated shutters animates the upstairs. 

Light passing through the perforated shutters animates the upstairs. 


The shutters don’t merely block out light—they actually filter and improve it. Thanks to thousands of little water-jet-cut perforations, each with its own "eyelid" hand-bent at an angle by Chilton, sunlight passes through the shutters, bounces off the hinged louvers, and enters the room significantly altered. Viewed from side to side, the crescent-like shapes of the perforations are meant to evoke the phases of the moon, yet there’s a randomness to the pattern that enlivens the walls of the Petriks’ residence throughout the day. "It’s kind of like sitting under a tree," says Bade. 

Besides Being Works of Art, These Custom Metal Shutters Master the Texas Heat - Photo 5 of 7 - Homeowners Erik and Kelli Petrik can open the wheel-hung, 10-foot-tall shutters on the second floor with the push of a handle.  The panels cost approximately <br>$75 per square foot to fabricate.&nbsp;

Homeowners Erik and Kelli Petrik can open the wheel-hung, 10-foot-tall shutters on the second floor with the push of a handle. The panels cost approximately
$75 per square foot to fabricate. 

The shutters are movable, hung from wheels at the top so they slide easily back and forth on a guide track that’s concealed by the roof, and they can be opened using a wood handle. But the Petriks love the interplay of light and shadow so much that they often keep the shutters closed in the summertime position year-round. "We enjoy the way the light dapples through them," says Erik. "We didn’t realize how great it was going to be."  

Besides Being Works of Art, These Custom Metal Shutters Master the Texas Heat - Photo 6 of 7 - Another variation on the pattern, designed by architect Tim Bade, appears on the brushed-aluminum guardrail.&nbsp;

Another variation on the pattern, designed by architect Tim Bade, appears on the brushed-aluminum guardrail. 


Besides Being Works of Art, These Custom Metal Shutters Master the Texas Heat - Photo 7 of 7 - The team employed sun-tracking computer modeling to calibrate the roof planes to protect the interior spaces from direct sun in summer and provide passive heating in winter.&nbsp;

The team employed sun-tracking computer modeling to calibrate the roof planes to protect the interior spaces from direct sun in summer and provide passive heating in winter. 

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