Tree House is a residence comprised of three pavilions positioned around a live oak tree, completed in 2014 by Matt Fajkus Architecture, located in Austin, Texas. The oak tree serves as the focal point to the exterior of the u-shaped home, helping to create a division between the public and private areas, at the same time offering views of the tree and natural surroundings. The three wings offers 2,766 square feet (257 square meters) of living space, while their positioning around the oak tree creates an outdoor living space for the homeowners and guests to congregate.
Description from the architects: Balanced shade, dappled sunlight, and tree canopy views are the basis of the 518 Sacramento Drive house design. The entry is on center with the lot’s primary Live Oak tree, and each interior space has a unique relationship to this central element.
Composed of crisply-detailed, considered materials, surfaces and finishes, the home is a balance of sophistication and restraint. The two-story massing is designed to allow for a bold yet humble street presence, while each single-story wing extends through the site, forming intimate outdoor and indoor spaces.
In plan, the home is organized into clear zones of public and private function, allowing the center courtyard with the primary tree to negotiate the connection between either realm. The layout is arranged to optimize function and experience, where each daily behavior is considered in connection with the next, resulting in a holistic and flowing composition, rather than just a collection of rooms.
The upper story is clad in stucco, articulated as a floating white box to pronounce a street presence and act as a veritable “tree house” for the children’s bedroom zone.
An integrated board formed concrete planter denotes a spatial separation between the living room and the kitchen/dining space, while still allowing connection between the overlapping realms. The skylight allows natural light to penetrate deep into the space.
The master suite is as much about its opening to the small yard as it is about the enclosed space it captures. The tongue-and-groove wood ceiling is an accent which continues to the exterior soffit, blurring the lines between inside and outside.
The courtyard around the tree terraces down to the yard, acting as a natural amphitheater for gatherings and performances within the wings of the house.
This design is carefully calibrated to allow internal views on the small lot and various amounts of direct and indirect natural light. Each space has more than one type of opening to allow for various connections to the outside and thus nature.
Massing is composed as two single-story wings which wrap the primary existing Live Oak tree on the site. The 2-story “window wall” maximizes the use of inexpensive windows which frame various views to the tree while creating a rich elevation and allowing for the harvesting of daylight to the entry zone. The upper portion of the wall tapers and folds back to allow the tree canopy to extend and grow.
Composed as a functional container for life and experience, the circulation space is intended for passage and informal activities, rather than corridors.
The courtyard design capitalizes on the dappled light from the preserved Live Oak tree, which animates exterior and interior spaces at different times through the day. Each space in the house has a special intended relationship with the tree and its perceived space.
The windows act as playful apertures which activate the courtyard space at night, showcasing the preserved Live Oak.
Ski Shores Lakehouse is a modest weekend lake house that has been skillfully designed by Stuart Sampley Architect, located in Austin, Texas. The spirit of traditional Texas dogtrot-style architecture is modernly refined in this retreat.
Description from the architect: Two volumes flank a central porch that’s naturally cooled by lake breezes, capped on each end by tall, swinging gates for privacy and security, and anchored by a substantial outdoor dining table.
On one side, a sleek, modern kitchen is minimal in material but heavy on style and storage. A sunken living room— highlighted by rich warm wood underfoot — exudes comfort and is the ideal spot to escape the Texas summer heat. On the other side of the porch, cozy bedrooms balance the house, featuring big windows offering views of the Texas landscape.
The home’s materials were sourced regionally and chosen to last; exterior walls made of gray Texas Lueders Limestone mix with Southern yellow pine to create a natural palette that requires no maintenance. It’s a weekend getaway the homeowner can enjoy for decades to come.
Photos: Casey Dunn
This extraordinary modern farmhouse has been designed by Olsen Studios, located just West of Preston Hollow, a neighborhood outside of Dallas, Texas. The farmhouse gives the impression of a Napa Valley Estate nestled amongst the large Pecan and Oak Trees of “rural” Dallas.
The simple board and batten, gabled structures are mixed with highly textured elements in the landscape to create a perfect visual balance for this Urban Dallas location.
Olsen Studios designed the house as a series of small pavilions connected by glass links. The structures weave their way through the existing trees and site amenities.
It incorporates a south facing courtyard and porch to take advantage of the Texas climate, and a north facing evening court to enjoy the rural streetscape and converse with neighbors.
Enclosed dog run type entry to this Modern Farmhouse, with antique console and limestone floors.
The interior is filled with natural light and views, and is appointed with the Owner’s incredible collection of local artisan paintings and sculpture.
The great room with limestone fireplace and ebonized oak cabinetry.
The home office space features a sliding antique barn door.
The kitchen showcases ebonized oak cabinets, stainless steel appliances, silestone counters and natural white oak floors.
Freestanding Queen Victoria tub in modern bath.
Olsen Studios began its creative existence with founding Principal Jamie Olsen Ali. She started the firm with the simple concept that buildings are experienced from the inside out, and that architecture and interior design should be developed together. As a full service design firm, Olsen Studios creates integrated buildings and environments to last a lifetime.
Photos: Sean Gallagher
The Tree House is a contemporary single family private residence that was designed by Miró Rivera Architects, located in beautiful Austin, Texas. Early sketches of this home explore the play between the steep, sloping site on which it lies and two curving rooflines—one concave and one convex.
The local and natural materials of the exterior wrap into the interior of the home; stone walls and dark wood floors are contrasted by clean lines and glass above, creating the feeling of lightness. Large glass windows and sliding doors take full advantage of the sweeping views of downtown Austin, dissolving the boundaries between interior and exterior, while deep overhangs frame views of the sky above.
At the street front, the concave roof forms a low, unassuming facade that respects the scale of the neighborhood and provides privacy for bedrooms and studies. Simultaneously, the convex roof shared by the living, dining, and kitchen spaces opens the interior of the house to a canopy of oak trees and a small pool.
Miró Rivera Architects (MRA) is an internationally-recognized architecture practice that has created a body of work that exemplifies design excellence, blurs art and architecture, and includes poetic and inspirational projects that enrich their landscapes. Services include: residential, commercial and institutional architecture; urban design; and interior design.
Photos: Miró Rivera Architects
Barton Hills Residence is a sensational contemporary property designed by A Parallel Architecture, nestled into a hilltop in Barton Hills, South Austin, Texas. This 2,700 square foot new-construction home boasts panoramic views of downtown and the surrounding valley. A half-sunken concrete garage creates a plinth for the wood and glass home to perch above, maintaining a scale and character consistent with the mid-century-modern neighborhood.
An open-plan living space enjoys the distant views as well as private courtyard views to the rear, reinforcing the indoor/outdoor character that the clients’ lifestyle demands.
A second story master suite opens onto a large roof deck that further embraces the vista and creates a flexible outdoor living space. Passive green-building strategies and energy-efficient specifications ensure a low-impact, low-maintenance structure.
Photos: Topher Ayrhart
Cascading Creek House is a contemporary single family residence that has been designed by Bercy Chen Studio, located in Austin, Texas. The property was conceived less as a house and more as an extension and outgrowth of the limestone and aquifers of Central Texas. Just recently completed, this 11,796 square foot home incorporates plenty of sustainable features including photovoltaics, rainwater collection and hydronic heating and cooling. The beautiful contemporary design details carried out throughout the home was the meticulous work of Alan Cano Interiors.
The primary formal gesture of the project inserts two long native limestone walls to the sloping site, serving as spines for the public wing and private wing of the house. The walls and the wings they delineate shelter a domesticated landscape that serves as an extended living space oriented towards the creek below and protected from the torrents of water draining from the street above during sudden downpours characteristic of the area.
The sitting of the boundary walls and building elements was informed by the presence and preservation of three mature native oaks. The roof structure is configured so as to create a natural basin for the collection of rainwater, not unlike the vernal pools found in the outcroppings of the Texas Hill Country. These basins harness additional natural flows through the use of photovoltaic and solar hot-water panels.
The water, electricity and heat which are harvested on the roof tie into an extensive climate conditioning system which utilizes water source heat pumps and radiant loops to supply both the heating and cooling for the residence. The climate system is connected to geothermal ground loops as well as pools and water features thereby establishing a system of heat exchange, which minimizes reliance on electricity or gas.
Photos: Bercy Chen Studio
Westlake Ranch House is a stunning mid-century home re-designed by Shiflet Group Architects, located in Austin, Texas. Mark Ashby Design worked in collaboration with the architects to reconfigure the 1961 ranch house into a bright, open-plan residence.
The amazing fixture featured in the living room is a functional sculpture, with a futuristic look that also has mid-century modern flair. It is a Cross Cable Mobile in a powder coated aluminum nickel plated steel shade by David Weeks. The dimensions are: Standard Tier Length: 55” x 55”; Tiers can be customized up to 96”.
The extensive remodel included doubling the kitchen, integrating a state of the art sound system, and creating new exterior spaces. Mark also worked closely with the owner to curate the art collection.
The flooring in the dining space are end cut wood. The pendant lamp hanging from the ceiling is a Akari Noguchi light sculpture.
Mark’s approach is defined by a deep reverence for history and architectural context combined with a refined, contemporary aesthetic. He is a true collaborator, engaging his clients and his design team to ensure that each project is a thoughtful expression of the client’s own style and sensibilities.
Mark and his designers work on projects across the southwest and around the country. The firm’s work has been featured in the books Great Homes of Texas and Modern Cabins, as well as in a number of publications, including Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Traditional Home, and Western Interiors.
Photos: Courtesy of Mark Ashby Design
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