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.”

Project Credits
principal in charge: Mell Lawrence, FAIA, Mell Lawrence Architects, 
project architects: François Lévy, Scott Smith, AIA, Mell Lawrence Architects
general contractor: Shawn Solsbery, Classic Constructors, Marble Falls, Texas, 
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

Product Details
bathroom and kitchen fittings: Hansgrohe; bathroom fixtures: Griffin Products, Kohler Co.; decking: Filler King Co.; dishwasher: Bosch Home Appliances; hardware: Alexander Marchant, FSB USA; kitchen fixtures: Blanco; lighting fixtures: Crescent/Stonco, Design Within Reach, Lucifer Lighting Co., VIBIA; paints/stains/wall finishes: PPG Industries (Pittsburgh Paints), Velvit Products Co.; solar energy system: Meridian Solar; windows: Columbia Windows & Doors

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