Project: Constant Springs Residence
Architects: Alterstudio Architecture
Architect in Charge: Kevin Alter, Ernesto Cragnolino, Tim Whitehill, Joseph Boyle, Michael Woodland, Sara Mays
Location: Austin, United States
Area 3606.0 ft2
Project Year 2017
Photographs: Casey Dunn, Leonid Furmansky
2018 Texas Society of Architects Design Award
2018 IIDA Excellence in Design Award
2017 American Architecture Prize
2018 AIA Austin Design Award
Text description by Alterstudio Architecture: The opportunity to live simultaneously in the center of the city and in an isolated refuge presented a powerful circumstance for this family of four. Within a very ordinary neighborhood, the Constant Springs Residence is oriented to take maximum advantage of the unexpected escarpment, creek and natural views offered at the rear of the property.
An unmitigated roof defines a precinct for living and creates continuity throughout the property while a delicate custom-glazed window wall, accentuated by monolithic corner glazing, connects the interior to the outdoors. Inhabitation is here defined between a lush front courtyard and a dynamic expanse of nature behind.
A magnificent live oak with an unusually tall trunk allowed for adjustment of the steep grade. The ubiquitous Cedar ceiling opens to allow it the tree pass through, and an Ipe deck permits the penetration of water. A second opening in the ceiling invites light and rain deep into the center of the house. The house emphasizes a dynamic spatial sequence while at the same time creating an abstract backdrop for the serendipity of light, reflection, circumstance and view.
Inside, a rich palette of materials, furniture and detailed cabinetry punctuate the ensemble to add a sense of finesse and offer points of stasis to the compelling and omnipresent out-of-doors. Here, a straight-grain, Western Red Cedar ceiling and vertical siding, white Terrazzo floors, grey Leuders limestone and a custom steel-and-White Oak entry door demonstrate great constructional aplomb and detail — all the more special as it was built by the owner in his first foray into being a general contractor.
Exceptional care was taken with the kitchen in particular. Omnipresent, a stunning Calacatta Lincoln marble countertop waterfalls around a vertical, end-grain White Oak kick, while a monumentally scaled, acid-etched mirror backsplash presents a mysteriously luminous backdrop to the life of the house.