Austin architect Tim Cuppett recently designed the Hillside house in South Austin that conquered the problem of the two homeowners’ divergent tastes.
Description by Tim Cuppett: The site is a one acre, narrow slice of hillside just blocks above bustling South Congress Ave with tree top views of downtown. Rock outcroppings and native vegetation envelope the property, consistent with the casual, un-manicured character of its neighborhood.
Aside from the opportunities presented by a narrow sloping site, the largest character defining parameter for the house was the dichotomy of owner interests: he, a musician, internet entrepreneur who wanted a modern white box with views of downtown and she, a yoga-practicing mid-wife who wanted a barn with animals. Solving simultaneously the response to site and client, the solution embraces and exploits the depth and slope of the land.
From street level, one climbs a stair through a stone plinth to an elevated terrace captured by the main house, screened porch and a grove of Live Oaks. The slender mass is drawn out along the property’s length to avoid protected trees which provide privacy from neighbors. Only the screened porch projects out to capture prevailing breeze and afford uninterrupted views through the site.
At the center of the home, a large multifold door shared by kitchen/dining and porch can be opened to provide true outdoor living protected from ever-present mosquitoes. The dining room’s double height interior volume w/ventilating skylight draws fresh air up and through the house. This solar chimney, along with the connectedness of the screened porch to the main living space, and the wide brim-like overhangs enable passive cooling through temperate seasons.
The material palette both inside and out was chosen with owner interests and neighborhood context in mind. The slurried stone and rustic, shou sugi ban siding melt comfortably into the overgrown landscape along Hillside Avenue while thin steel details and large expanses of glazing cater to more modern sensibilities. So too on the inside, slick white walls and large expanses of glass are paired with v-groove millwork, claw foot tub and quilt- inspired tile installations.
The result is a composition of buildings which reinforce a camp-like aesthetic gathered around heritage live oaks. Both modern and rustic the house celebrates the “spirit of its place!’
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