mell lawrence architects, austin, texas
The jury loved the way this Texas guesthouse and weekend retreat juxtaposes rough-edged elements and polished precision. “It has heart,” said one judge. “It’s quirky—that’s what I like about it.”
Architect Mell Lawrence, FAIA, took cues from the craggy surrounding landscape. “The trees have a textural quality, and the ground is rocky, with a lot of limestone outcroppings,” he says. Corrugated metal siding and storage doors made from raw juniper branches relate to this rugged aspect, while the interior wood detailing and standing seam metal roofs add refinement. The local vernacular played into these contrasting material choices as well. “In the older rural areas around the South and Texas, people mixed a lot of smooth boards and rough wood,” Lawrence notes.
The blufftop site’s view down onto the lake below helped dictate the home’s orientation and glass-filled southern façade. A south-facing overhang covered with solar panels wards off the harsh sun, while generating enough energy to power the 1,400-square-foot cottage. And a rainwater collection system and xeriscaping provide additional resource-conserving measures. While not technically off the grid, the house is self-sufficient, just as Lawrence intended. “The clients wanted it to not relate to the main house,” he says. “They wanted it to feel like another world.”
principal in charge: Mell Lawrence, FAIA, Mell Lawrence Architects, www.architecturalpolka.com
project architects: François Lévy, Scott Smith, AIA, Mell Lawrence Architects
general contractor: Shawn Solsbery, Classic Constructors, Marble Falls, Texas, www.classicconstructors.com
structural engineer: Jeffrey L. Smith, P.E., Smith Structural Engineers, Austin, Texas
project size: 1,400 square feet
site size: 10 acres
construction cost: Withheld
photography: Mell Lawrence
bathroom and kitchen fittings: Hansgrohe www.hansgrohe-usa.com; bathroom fixtures: Griffin Products www.griffinproducts.com, Kohler Co. www.kohler.com; decking: Filler King Co. www.fillerking.com; dishwasher: Bosch Home Appliances www.bosch-home.com; hardware: Alexander Marchant www.alexandermarchant.com, FSB USA www.fsbusa.com; kitchen fixtures: Blanco www.blancoamerica.com; lighting fixtures: Crescent/Stonco www.stoncolighting.com, Design Within Reach www.dwr.com, Lucifer Lighting Co. www.luciferlighting.com, VIBIA www.vibialight.com; paints/stains/wall finishes: PPG Industries (Pittsburgh Paints) www.pittsburghpaints.com, Velvit Products Co. www.velvitproducts.com; solar energy system: Meridian Solar www.meridiansolar.com; windows: Columbia Windows & Doors www.columbiawindows.com
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