Project: Ski Slope Residence
Architects: LaRue Architects
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Area: 4,100 sf
Photographs by: Dror Baldinger
Ski Slope Residence by LaRue Architects
The 4,100 SF one-story ‘Hill Country contemporary’ residence sits on a 1.2-acre site on the west bank of Austin, TX. The homeowners reached out to LaRue Architects to design their lakeside dream home. The lot had an existing house – built in the 1950’s as a vacation lake cabin – shaped like a hexagon — with an addition added on somewhere in the 1970s.
When LaRue Architects and Britt Design Group began to look at the initial design concept they were intrigued by the construction of the hexagon building. “We knew immediately that we wanted to remove the 1970’s addition and keep the original hexagon shaped main living area. The building was situated close to the lake front and is elevated providing 180 degree views of the lake,” says architect James LaRue.
The design challenge was how to intergrade a modern home design concept into the hexagon geometry and have the final architecture become a cohesive building while also addressing the heavily treed, steep sloping site (the lot slopes down 120’ from the back of the house to the shoreline). The initial design concept was to convert the hexagon living space into the primary bedroom suite with expansive views to the lake.
“We then connected the hexagon building with a long, narrow form running parallel to the shoreline. This design concept allowed us to address the steep nature of the site, preserve the large pecan trees, and allows every space to have views of the lake,” adds LaRue.
The four bedroom house is configured in a long single-story L-shape with the private spaces anchored by the re-configured original hexagon structure on one end and a semi-detached guest suite on the far end of the horizontal design. The public spaces are aligned along the center of the building with views of the lake and joined to an open ‘dog-trot’ style outdoor living space which overlooks the pool and lake.
Lighting plays an important role throughout this thoughtfully designed home and provides a sculptural counterbalance to the restrained modern architecture. There is strong connection to the outdoors with large expanses of glass throughout. The outdoor living space is the connector — the dogtrot — between the main house and the guest suite. It has a generous roof overhead with a warm wood clad ceiling which protects it from the sun and other elements. There is also a two level boat dock (part of the renovation) providing a perfect outdoor lounge space perched above the water.
The interior design is a sophisticated palette – reflecting the homeowners’ style – utilizing natural finishes to compliment the serene surroundings. “The clients have a wonderful collection of art objects and furnishings they’ve collected from their travels around the world. Weaving their personal story into the fabric of the overall design was a fun challenge. One important element to their story is their involvement in winemaking,” says Laura Britt, Britt Design Group. The homeowners also own a vineyard in Argentina, and personally select the blends, they even custom design the wine labels. The image of the entry way (below) captures the their Steinway grand piano, their wine collection, and custom Apparatus lighting.
“The owners suite remained on the site and the new building was built around it – it all feels like a new build – perfectly executed with high quality construction. The owner’s bathroom has a serene ethereal feeling with the dappled lighting cascading across the large soaking tub and modern porcelain floor,” says Britt.
The custom cabinetry throughout the kitchen was designed to feel more like beautifully detailed furnishings rather than a typical kitchen. Elevating the cabinets on wooden legs create physical and visual space between the floor and cabinets. A glass front refrigerator adds to the unique kitchen with custom kitchen armoire storing coffee making equipment. The dining room features a custom built steel and wood table – using the wood from the original site.
Construction techniques and the principal materials used in this project included the wood frame building using select Douglas Fir with concealed steel structure to accommodate larger pans, locally sourced stone, metal roof and wall panels, and steel windows in conjuncture with wood windows.
“The entire design of this home is driven by the site constraints and the final result responds in a very beautiful way to those constraints and to its heritage,” says LaRue.
-Project description and images provided by LaRue Architects