Text description provided by the architects. The Cuernavaca Residence is the latest installment in an evolving constructed landscape on a family compound that is shared by the client and her sister. Nestled in a wooded lot, the home forms an ensemble with an existing pool house. The latter’s board-formed concrete walls establish the material basis for the new residence, which is home to a family of five and includes two home offices.
The house features a restrained vocabulary of rift-sawn oak, mill-finished steel, galvanized metal panels, and concrete— that alternate in orientation (between vertical and horizontal) and pattern (among board-formed, sand-blasted, and bush-hammered). Taken together, these materials create an environment rich in texture and animated by sun and shade over the course of a day.
Located in Northwest Austin located just west of a stretch of the Colorado River, slipping between an existing pool house and a magnificent Live Oak, the house defines discrete terrains on the property. Long views are established: east to the limestone shelf of the Colorado River; north to a rolling meadow; west to a grove of oaks and the shared pool house.
A 22-foot-tall porch, with an outdoor fireplace, provides an outdoor family room; a second-floor roof deck affords constant breezes and stunning views of the limestone cliffs. Aligned with these natural features, the house welcomes engagement with the circumstances of this particular landscape as the owners move through their home; further, the house provides a sense of the entire property in incidental moments.
Inside, dramatic vistas are omnipresent, and the house is alive with activity. The raw texture of the concrete is presented against finely detailed walnut millwork and custom site-glazed window walls— which are framed with rift-sawn white oak and steel to form flitch plate mullions.
A meandering white oak ceiling defines the more intimate spaces within an open plan. Moreover, rich walnut cabinetry, book-matched statuary countertops, monolithic limestone vanities, and delicate timber screens provide a point of stasis against the ubiquitous and dynamic circumstances of the place.