Project: Hewn House
Architects: Matt Fajkus Architecture
Project Manager: Sarah Wassel
Design Team: Matt Fajkus, Sarah Wassel, David Birt
Location: Austin, Texas, United States
Area: 2509.0 ft2
General Contractor & Developer: Capstone Custom Homes
Photographer: Charles Davis Smith, FAIA
Text by Matt Fajkus Architecture
The cabin typology redux came out of the owner’s desire to have a house that is warm and familiar, but also “feels like you are on vacation.” The basis of the Hewn House design starts with a cabin’s simple form and materiality: a gable roof, a wood-clad body, a prominent fireplace that acts as the hearth, and integrated indoor-outdoor spaces. However, rather than a rustic style, the scheme proposes a clean-lined and “hewned” form, sculpted, to best fit on its urban infill lot.
The plan and elevation geometries are responsive to the unique site conditions. Existing prominent trees determined the faceted shape of the main house, while providing shade that projecting eaves of a traditional log cabin would otherwise offer. Deferring to the trees also allows the house to more readily tuck into its leafy East Austin neighborhood, and is therefore more quiet and secluded.
Natural light and coziness are key inside the home. Both the common zone and the private quarters extend to sheltered outdoor spaces of varying scales: the front porch, the private patios, and the back porch which acts as a transition to the backyard. Similar to the front of the house, a large cedar elm was preserved in the center of the yard.
Sliding glass doors open up the interior living zone to the backyard life while clerestory windows bring in additional ambient light and tree canopy views. The wood ceiling adds warmth and connection to the exterior knotted cedar tongue & groove. The iron spot bricks with an earthy, reddish tone around the fireplace cast a new material interest both inside and outside. The gable roof is clad with standing seam to reinforced the clean-lined and faceted form. Furthermore, a dark gray shade of stucco contrasts and complements the warmth of the cedar with its coolness.
A freestanding guest house both separates from and connects to the main house through a small, private patio with a tall steel planter bed.