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15 Young Firms to Watch: Bercy Chen Studio, Austin, Texas

15 Young Firms to Watch: Bercy Chen Studio, Austin, Texas

  • An early and influential project, this house demonstrates the firms proclivity for experimenting with materials and inside-out spaces.

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    An early and influential project, this house demonstrates the firms proclivity for experimenting with materials and inside-out spaces.

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

    An early and influential project, this house demonstrates the firm’s proclivity for experimenting with materials and inside-out spaces.

  • The house is constructed of a modular steel frame and prefab thermasteel panels to minimize construction waste. The exposed structure shows the construction process and defines the elevations.

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    The house is constructed of a modular steel frame and prefab thermasteel panels to minimize construction waste. The exposed structure shows the construction process and defines the elevations.

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

    The house is constructed of a modular steel frame and prefab thermasteel panels to minimize construction waste. The exposed structure shows the construction process and defines the elevations.

  • The house was built for two families and therefore is split into two parallel pavilions that flank a courtyard and are connected visually by a water feature and physically by a glass hallway.

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    The house was built for two families and therefore is split into two parallel pavilions that flank a courtyard and are connected visually by a water feature and physically by a glass hallway.

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

    The house was built for two families and therefore is split into two parallel pavilions that flank a courtyard and are connected visually by a water feature and physically by a glass hallway.

  • The use of water as an architectural element and the seamless inside-out flow were inspired by Asian architecture and landscape design.

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    The use of water as an architectural element and the seamless inside-out flow were inspired by Asian architecture and landscape design.

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

    The use of water as an architectural element and the seamless inside-out flow were inspired by Asian architecture and landscape design.

  • Thomas Bercy says the Annie House shows how the firm incorporates all of their cultural backgrounds and influences, such as the Moorish tradition of having roof decks with tent-like shading.

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    Thomas Bercy says the Annie House shows how the firm incorporates all of their cultural backgrounds and influences, such as the Moorish tradition of having roof decks with tent-like shading.

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    Thomas Bercy says the Annie House shows how the firm incorporates all of their cultural backgrounds and influences, such as the Moorish tradition of having roof decks with tent-like shading.

  • The suspended steel spiral stair and the blue polycarbonate panels are just two of the products Bercy Chen used in their exploration of interesting materials on this house.

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    The suspended steel spiral stair and the blue polycarbonate panels are just two of the products Bercy Chen used in their exploration of interesting materials on this house.

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

    The suspended steel spiral stair and the blue polycarbonate panels are just two of the products Bercy Chen used in their exploration of interesting materials on this house.

  • The Cascading Creek House is a recent project the firm designed and built in West Austin. The owners agreed to the use of a lot of sustainable materials and techniques, which is important to Bercy Chen. It also integrates intimately with the landscape, adds Thomas Bercy, which made it a very fun project to work on.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp264F%2Etmp_tcm48-1284786.jpg

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    The Cascading Creek House is a recent project the firm designed and built in West Austin. The owners agreed to the use of a lot of sustainable materials and techniques, which is important to Bercy Chen. It also integrates intimately with the landscape, adds Thomas Bercy, which made it a very fun project to work on.

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

    The Cascading Creek House is a recent project the firm designed and built in West Austin. The owners agreed to the use of a lot of sustainable materials and techniques, which is important to Bercy Chen. “It also integrates intimately with the landscape,” adds Thomas Bercy, “which made it a very fun project to work on.”

  • Garden terraces tie the house to the gently sloping yard and act as a stormwater management system.

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    Garden terraces tie the house to the gently sloping yard and act as a stormwater management system.

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

    Garden terraces tie the house to the gently sloping yard and act as a stormwater management system.

  • Placed to take advantage of prevailing winds, the pool creates an evaporative cooling effect for the deck and adjacent living areas.

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    Placed to take advantage of prevailing winds, the pool creates an evaporative cooling effect for the deck and adjacent living areas.

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

    Placed to take advantage of prevailing winds, the pool creates an evaporative cooling effect for the deck and adjacent living areas.

  • The open living spaces also step down to follow the sites topography and feature tile floors and indirect daylight to keep things cool but bright inside.

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    The open living spaces also step down to follow the sites topography and feature tile floors and indirect daylight to keep things cool but bright inside.

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

    The open living spaces also step down to follow the site’s topography and feature tile floors and indirect daylight to keep things cool but bright inside.

  • The master bath opens into a private courtyard.

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    The master bath opens into a private courtyard.

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

    The master bath opens into a private courtyard.

  • The Shore Vista Boat House represents Bercy Chen's willingness to experiment with forms--in this case curvilinear components. "It came about as a result of engaging in this interesting bend in the river," Calvin Chen explains. "And I also had just returned from Brazil and seen the museum that Oscar Niemeyer did and this boat house is a more mode3st version of that."

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp2654%2Etmp_tcm48-1284791.jpg

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    The Shore Vista Boat House represents Bercy Chen's willingness to experiment with forms--in this case curvilinear components. "It came about as a result of engaging in this interesting bend in the river," Calvin Chen explains. "And I also had just returned from Brazil and seen the museum that Oscar Niemeyer did and this boat house is a more mode3st version of that."

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

    The Shore Vista Boat House represents Bercy Chen's willingness to experiment with forms--in this case curvilinear components. "It came about as a result of engaging in this interesting bend in the river," Calvin Chen explains. "And I also had just returned from Brazil and seen the museum that Oscar Niemeyer did and this boat house is a more mode3st version of that."

  • View off the boat house deck illustrating the inspirational bend in the river.

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    View off the boat house deck illustrating the inspirational bend in the river.

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

    View off the boat house deck illustrating the inspirational bend in the river.

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    courtesy Bercy Chen Studio

 

bercy chen studio
austin, texas
www.bcarc.com

Brussels-born Thomas Bercy and Calvin Chen, Assoc. AIA, who hails from Taiwan by way of Australia, have vastly different backgrounds. Yet the former University of Texas schoolmates share such a similar design tactic that they draw on each other’s sketches. Launched in 2001, Austin, Texas–based Bercy Chen Studio has since won more than 20 awards from 12 countries. They credit the recognition to their international influences and collaborative approach.

The firm’s portfolio splits almost evenly between residential and commercial, but Bercy and Chen agree that designing a single-family custom home is a welcome luxury for two people who grew up in dense cities. “It’s rare in Asia and Europe to design single-family,” Chen explains.

In addition to designing—and sometimes building—gorgeous projects, Bercy and Chen also get involved in community issues. “Architects in the U.S. are at the periphery of the building industry,” Bercy laments. Both partners serve on arts and design boards or committees, and the firm took part in a task force to create a cultural master plan for Austin. “There’s no American equivalent to Rem Koolhaas,” Chen observes. “He’s working with different groups on housing for the future or city planning, and you don’t see famous American architects involved in policy.”

View all articles in 15 Young Firms to Watch.


years in practice: 10 / projects completed in 2011: 5 / firm size: 10 / areas of interest: residential, commercial