Floating above the ground on piers, 1615 Garden Street brings green building and modern design to its East Austin neighborhood — on a budget $115/sf). The house for a young family achieves high-impact contemporary design using lost-cost, low-energy materials and technology featuring deep porches, double-height open living spaces, custom wood shelving that defines these spaces, concrete countertops, an open-to-sky shower and an abundance of natural light.
The clients, a young professional couple with a baby, wanted an open and flexible home, an environment in which to start their family that compliments this new phase in life. We designed the house to act as a dynamic visual archive; custom-built wood shelving wraps and shapes flexible zones for living, simultaneously displaying cherished mementos and framing the active performance of everyday life.
Responsive to our Texas climate, the house utilizes deep overhangs to protect the facade from sun exposure and to create large covered porches for relaxation. Skylights positioned over the porches allow the sun to penetrate the facade during the winter but block its harsh rays during the summer. The outermost walls are painted standing seam metal, a robust and durable siding, with cedar box frames projecting from each window to provide additional shading. Overhangs on the north and south facades protect more vulnerable yellow-pine-clad walls from sun and weather, setting the tone for a softer, more intimate atmosphere on the front and back porches.
The house continues to prioritize sustainability on the interior. The double-height living room and kitchen space promotes passive cooling through the ‘stack effect’ — hot air rises and vents out of high positioned windows, drawing cooler air into the space. Daylighting is carefully calibrated throughout and powered illumination is typically only required at night. Spray foam insulation applied to the roof, walls and floors minimizes thermal bridging, and a solar water heater uses the sun to provide hot water. All of these features significantly reduce energy costs.
In order to keep the material palette simple and green, we custom-built many details into the house. This allowed us to create richly textured, efficient spaces. Every countertop is custom-poured and polished concrete. We designed integral sinks into the bathroom counters, which read as singular weighty objects that contrast the lighter wood tones. In the master bathroom, polycarbonate boxes serve as open medicine cabinets, letting light flow through the bathroom even into the secluded toilet room. The master shower, half indoor and half open to the sky, also brings natural light and a feeling of the outdoors to the everyday experience of the clients. We designed and built these custom details and furniture pieces to be playful and to compliment the architecture.