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Austin, TX / 4200 SF / New Private Residence

The city of Austin rests on the edge of the Balcones Fault line, where the undulating topography of Hill Country bridges Texas’ eastern ranchland and the high plains of the Edwards Plateau to the west. The Escarpment House is placed on the slope of this rolling landscape, occupying a moment of level ground before the grade plunges downwards towards the Colorado River.

To take advantage of its beautifully wooded site, the house is organized around the insertion of a long stone spine wall that delineates the public entry drive, courtyard, and service spaces from the family’s private living areas. Borrowing from the fractured geology of its site, the Escarpment House comprises a collection of folded, cascading forms, a geometric record of formal manipulation operating in plan and section that intertwines the architecture with its landscape. The minimal, abstract volumes of the house wrap in a series of interlocking solids and voids around the central organizing spine wall, which projects out from the embrace of the house to offer a dramatic entry sequence to the visitor and point directly east to the heart of downtown Austin.

The kitchen, dining and living rooms, pool, and master suite are arranged linearly along the spine, facing out over the hillside into the dense greenery of the property. As the ground slopes away, these spaces take on the character of a house situated within the treetops. The master suite is accessed via a “bridge” that wraps a large heritage live oak that enlivens each of the surrounding rooms.

Then, ascending through the double-height living room to the lofted space above, a cantilevered stair follows the spine wall to reach the second story above, oriented perpendicularly to afford open views through the valley to the dramatic and expanding skyline of Austin. The secondary bedrooms and media loft lead to a catwalk giving on to a private art studio that hovers out to shade the pool deck below, providing panoramic views out over adjacent Hill Country.

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