Photos by Steven and Cathi House
The United Cerebral Palsy Foundation’s YouTube miniseries, “Accessibility is Beautiful,” follows designer and HGTV host John Gidding as he explores architect-designed homes that showcase the principles of universal design. New Mobility Person of the Year Karen Braitmayer’s home is featured, along with that of Leslie Haynes and Randy Earle, and the two-segment finale showcases Casa Cabo Pulmo, owned by Pat Wright and Deb Zeyen.
Designed by House + House Architects, Casa Cabo Pulmo is proof that a home can be designed to be green, accessible and stunningly beautiful. It’s located hours away from the nearest town in an area so remote that architect Cathi House says, “It’s not only off the grid — there is no grid.” All of its appliances are run completely on solar power, and “all the materials we built the house out of are local. The floors are concrete with natural materials, detailed with stones picked up off the beach, and even the posts that are holding up the roof of the terraces are actual tree trunks with vines that had already fallen,” says House, who is proud that the home showcases the beauty of Mexico.
Such beauty and function are usually costly, but Cathi House says that’s not so in this case. “It’s not a very expensive home,” she says. “It’s built simply with simple materials. Its cost would be equal to a regular house in, say, Blacksburg, Virginia.”
“I have never not lived in an accessible home. I can’t imagine doing work asking the Congress and the world to end second class citizenship for people with disabilities and not practicing the theory in my own private life,” says Pat Wright whose leadership in getting the Americans with Disabilities Act passed earned her the nickname “The General.” She owns the home with her partner, Debra Zeyen.
Designed to be wheelchair accessible, the house features a 162-foot-long ramp to its second floor. It’s a work of art with its switchbacks designed to showcase planters and vistas of the land and sea. “Regardless of their degree of mobility, guests normally choose to walk up the ramp because the views are so beautiful and the journey such a joy,” says architect Steven House.