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Local Love: Unique Features

October 2017 Local Love

Local Love | October 2017

Compiled by Nicole Beckley & Holly Cowart

Sometimes building something new requires a little out of the box thinking. We asked some local architects to share some of the more unique features they’ve designed.

furman keil architects austin

Feature: Hanging Bed

Architect: Furman + Keil Architects
The Story: The homeowners asked for a lounging spot on their master screen porch, so we created this hanging bed. Designed as a steel-supported wooden cradle, it is large enough for sleeping or sitting up with a book. To hang it from the sloped structure, we created a steel bracket attached to the rafters allowing all suspension points of the bed to be in the same plane. The hanging bed is one of the homeowners’ favorite features in the house.

nick deaver austin architect

Feature: Bathing Porch

Architect: Nick Deaver
The Story: Before moving to Texas, my wife dreamed of an outdoor shower to complete her times in the garden and hot sun. Without a convenient place for an outdoor shower, we converted our 1916 bungalow’s sleeping porch, just off our bedroom, into her “bathing porch.” Opening narrow windows on each end of a symmetrical projecting bay window brings in nature’s delight.

Feature: Indoor Slide

tim brown architecture austin

Architect: Tim Brown Architecture
The Story: This slide is a multipurpose addition to the house. It serves as a fun way for the kids to get to the first floor and is a convenient laundry chute. The slide access also provides a light well to the utility room below. The piece was a custom order from a company located in Indiana and was site finished.

matt fajkus architecture austin

Feature: Floating Second Floor, Doubling As A Carport

Architect: Matt Fajkus Arhcitecture
The Story: Our clients are both race car drivers, which is how they met. They wanted to build a house that allowed them to celebrate their shared passion, the thing that connected them in the first place. Our challenge was to design a compact urban living space that doesn’t feel small and also connects to the car level. We created a floating second floor volume that can be shifted forward to allow for double-height views into the garage space at the back, while acting as an everyday carport beneath the hovering bed chamber in the front. The living space feels light and airy by being visually expansive to the adjacent exterior roof deck, as well as to the sky above.

Photograph by Charles Davis Smith

Feature: Custom Steel and Wood LED Lighted Glass Art Display Case

cdk architects austin

Architect: CDK Architects
The Story: The home owner is a collector of modern glass art; the goal was to create a display case that would allow the viewer to experience the art three-dimensionally. The real challenge was to create a “floating” steel display case that would support the glass art, and also light each piece of art in a desirable way, without obtrusive electrical wires. We collaborated with a custom steel fabricator to design a unique display case — a piece of art in and of itself.

Photograph by Jon Bolden

Feature: Tennis Court Hanging Off the Side
of A Cliff

winn wittman architecture austin

Architect: Winn Wittman Architecture
The Story: A client came to us wanting a tennis court, but their backyard was too narrow. I suggested that we spin the court 90 degrees and hang it off the side of the cliff. The result makes for a more exhilarating game of tennis than usual. The only downside is that balls hit over the fence are gone for good.

Photograph by Sean Brecht

bercy chen studio austin

Feature: Solid Two-Foot Wide Limestone Walls

Architect: Bercy Chen Studio
The Story: The use of solid stacked limestone walls was a primary feature of a house we designed and built. The main challenge was building the massive walls into the sloped site and then weaving the interior spaces of the house between and through them.

Photograph by Joshua Mackley

Feature: The Transformer

mj neal architects austin

Architect: MJ Neal Architects
The Story: The client’s request was to turn the single car garage into a new playroom and “open it up” as much as possible, incorporating the side yard into usable area that has a direct relationship with the house. The front wall and corner pivot to open, the side wall folds down to become a deck, and the small pivot window becomes a child’s door and window seat. The folding deck also becomes the “front porch,” providing the possibility for interaction with one’s neighbors as they pass by.

Photograph by MJ Neal

steve zagorski architect austin

Feature: Pool Accessible from Inside the House

Architect: Steve Zagorski Architect
The Story: We designed this pool in such a way that the owners could access it in any weather from inside the house. The stairwell creates a seal and the owners step down into the water and under the glass that separates the pool from the conditioned air space. The owner, a doctor, wanted to walk on water on his way to work; hence the stepping stones you see in one of the images.

Feature: Cedar Ceiling

alterstudio architecture alter austin

Architect: Alterstudio Architecture
The Story: We recently completed a home that provided the opportunity to live in the center of the city and simultaneously in an isolated refuge. An unmitigated roof defines a continuous space for living, but also catches a magnificent live oak within its precinct. The ubiquitous Cedar ceiling opens to allow it to pass through, and Ipe decks permit the penetration of water. The framing of the roof-plane was carefully calibrated to allow the tree to pass through, while the foundation carefully tip-toed around its root structure.

mark odom studio austin

Feature: Vertical Space at ATX Factory

Architect: Mark Odom Studio
The Story: When there was only so much square footage available, we had to go up and around to squeak out a bit more usable space. At the ATX Factory we created a small lofted space that allows access to an otherwise dead space above the booths via a step ladder.

Photograph by Andrew Calo

Feature: Floating Concrete Courtyard Ribbon

mckinney york architecture austin

Architect: McKinney York Architects
The Story: Our clients wanted to celebrate a large heritage oak in the middle of the site. We wrapped three sides of the tree with the new house and created a floating concrete ribbon to enclose the resulting courtyard and create an entry portal. By floating the ribbon and the adjacent wing of the house off the ground, the precious tree roots were given the space they needed to thrive.

Photograph by Thomas McConnell

Feature: Viewing Patio

barley pfeiffer architecture austin

Architect: Barley|Pfeiffer Architecture
The Story: When we created a 35’ diameter concrete lid and access hatch associated with a huge rainwater collection cistern to provide water to our client’s home, we ran into the question of how to minimize its visibility. Our solution was to turn the concrete lid into a night-sky viewing patio with a fire pit, and dress it up with stone that matches the home.

Read more from the Architecture Issue | October 2017