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