On an elongated lot, perpendicular to Sarasota Bay, sits a house that is a masterwork in minimalism. According to Designing Buildings Wiki, legendary architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mieus Van der Rohe believed that minimalism condensed the content and form of a design to its bare essentials, thereby revealing the architecture’s true essence.
Designed by Mark Sultana of DSDG Architects, this six-bedroom, six-and-a-half bath home totaling 5,850 square feet under air, proves that architecture is indeed art by showing its unfettered essence. The client first asked Sultana to create a coastal design with clean lines and a metal roof. The architect, with the help of the homeowner’s sons, convinced him that the site cried out for a modern design.
“Anyone can design traditional homes, but properly proportioned modern homes present more of a challenge, and I love a challenge,” says Sultana, who has designed more than 30 such homes, in locations from Southwest Florida and New York to Costa Rica. He has also just penned his second book on the subject, DSDG Architects Modern Homes Volume 2. His expertise allows him to pick and choose his projects and he is proud of this one.
“I am fortunate enough to have great clients,” says Sultana. “I really enjoyed working with this client to realize his vision and it gives me a great sense of pride to be introduced as his architect.”
Equally glad of his affiliation with Sultana is Michael Voigt, president of Voigt Brothers Construction, who has worked on dozens of custom homes over almost two decades with the architect.
“We have a great relationship and bounce ideas off each other,” says Voigt. “Mark designs one-of-a-kind homes that are structurally unique, and this makes for a challenging, but enjoyable, experience for us as the build team.”
In this instance, the site itself proved to be a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, with protected grand oak trees on either side of the site’s access, requiring some maneuvering by all of the large delivery trucks which were vital, as the concrete roof designed for the house required one million pounds of concrete to be poured.
“That weight required extra pilings to be used as part of the foundation. They all had to be connected horizontally below grade, meaning we had to pump water out of the hole 24-hours a day for weeks to complete the foundation and then backfill the hole before we turned the pump off,” Voigt explains.
“The entire project was a triumph structurally and a real home run for us,” Voigt continues. “Also, in the end, the client loved it, and that is why we do what we do.”
The interiors of the home are courtesy of April Balliette, of the interior design arm of DSDG Architects, who, interestingly enough for an interior designer, chose none of the home’s furnishings.
“Apart from some pieces he brought from previous homes, all furniture was purchased by the homeowner,” says Balliette. “Since I work with an architectural firm, this isn’t that unusual. Out of the more than 80 homes I have worked on with Mark, I have only furnished 10 of them.” Balliette instead helps choose the flooring, surfaces, cabinetry, plumbing, and wall colors or, as she puts it, “Anything you can’t walk away with.”
“The client was very invested in keeping things simple and mostly using tone-on-tone colors,” Balliette explains in reference to the owner’s preference for only the subtlest use of color and warm whites or creams over grays.
The homeowner was also a man of good and very definite taste. “He attended every design meeting and made his opinions clear. He knew what he wanted,” recalls Balliette. “Once I understood his aesthetic, I was able to help create a true minimalist sanctuary for him.”
Seven-and-a-half-inch white oak flooring from Sticks & Stones Flooring is used throughout the home’s living area. A glass railing allows light to shine through from the living room into the stairway and its landing. On the left, a rectangular window gives a glimpse into the innovative space as guests enter the home from downstairs.
The home — named after its roof — is called the Betonhaus, which means “The Concrete House” in the owner’s native German tongue. A marvel of structural engineering, the roof is only eight inches thick, yet it weighs one million pounds and is supported by pilings sunk 30 feet into the earth. Pillars and beams, tapered like fan blades, prevent the structure from being large and bulky, transforming it instead into something thin and sleek. The rear of the property faces west, affording long views across the water to Longboat Key, and the 60-foot lap pool appears to spill over the edge into Sarasota Bay. A retaining wall was created to avoid erosion beneath the drop-off to the water line.
High-gloss cabinetry in warm white brightens this streamlined kitchen. Channel cuts on the bottom cabinets and motorized touch corners on the upper cabinets eliminate the need for traditional hardware. Countertops are Rugged Concrete Ceasarstone from 301 Granite and Marble and between the Kohler trough sinks with its Brizo brushed stainless faucet from Ferguson, Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, the glass backsplash cleverly hides pop-up outlets, an innovative idea by DSDG interior designer April Balliette so as not to wreck the line of the counter. The island, via a strategic cutout, offers seating on both sides. Above the flush stovetop is an ingenious stainless hood that raises nearer to the ceiling at the push of a button. Wooden pocket doors seal off the kitchen (and any view of cooking chaos) from the adjacent dining and living rooms.
Conversation is no doubt sparked at the solid wood dining table adjacent to the great room and art wall (shown on previous spread), affording privacy and shielding the view from the neighbors’ property.
The floating vanity in this guest bath is in a taupe finish with polished chrome pulls. The faucets in the trough Scarabeo Ceramiche sink are by Hansgrohe from Ferguson, Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. A 36-LED-vanity light illuminates the mirror and on the floor is Seastone by Atlas Concorde, a white porcelain tile from Sticks & Stones Flooring meant to simulate a natural shell stone without the maintenance.
A polished concrete slab floor leads to the home’s glass front door. Thick white oak stair treads add warmth to this welcoming downstairs foyer, which is actually located in the middle of the property.
The upper deck sports a cypress tongue-and-groove ceiling, from which hang Minka Aire fans from Light Up Your Life. A powder-coated aluminum railing encloses the space, which is also accessible by an outdoor staircase from the pool area. This deck, also made of Galala limestone from Sticks & Stones Flooring, offers guests the perfect vantage point for sunset viewing.
Super high-performance windows, rated to 160-mile per-hour wind gusts, are shaded by an 18-foot overhang, and therefore don’t ever get warm to the touch. Solar panels, a high-efficiency air conditioning unit, and LED lighting earned the home a Green LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for energy efficiency. On the home’s right side, Nichiha horizontal concrete siding was used as it performs better than cypress in direct sun and requires no maintenance. Galala limestone from Sticks & Stones Flooring in Sarasota, was used on the pool deck.
Written by Kitt Walsh
Photography by Ryan Gamma
Architect & Interior Designer
1348 Fruitville Road, Suite 204
Sarasota, FL 34236
Luxury Home Builder
Voigt Brothers Construction
2015 Rose Street, Suite B
Sarasota, FL 34239
301 Granite & Marble
3800 North Washington Boulevard
Sarasota, FL 34234
Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
2451 17th Street
Sarasota, FL 34234
Light Up Your Life
1620 North Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34236
More Space Place
3906 South Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34231
Sticks & Stones Flooring
1839 Northgate Boulevard
Sarasota, FL 34234
Wicked Smart Homes
527 South Pineapple Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34236