Tour a Modern Home Nestled Amid the Trees of Texas Hill Country


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Once the site was chosen, Bercy and Chen developed a plan to break the 3,000-square-foot house into three main volumes. First there’d be a bedroom wing that would run roughly parallel to the creek, then a living-dining-kitchen wing that would jut out over it. The guesthouse, poolhouse, and office would occupy a separate building farther along the site. The buildings’ terrazzo floors and glass walls with dark mullions encourage an outward focus, as do the sculptural roofs, which curve gently at one end and curl dramatically (in the opposite direction) at the other. Supported by glulam beams, each roof swoops down from 16 feet to 4 feet, creating architectural drama while also directing sight lines toward the creek (and blocking views of houses on the other side of the ravine). The architects covered the ceilings in Douglas fir boards, which they lit gently from below. Says Bercy, “We use wood to offset the coldness of the glass and steel.”

Inside the house, nearly all the furniture was custom-made, much of it by a crew of woodworkers in Turin who call themselves Studio F. Their pieces include indoor and outdoor cocktail tables that step down, as if mimicking the landscape, and a dining table made from a cedar log found in the Italian Alps after lightning split a tree down the middle. “Because of the big crack in the wood, they thought I wouldn’t want it,” says Mandel. Not only did she want it, but she made the table more attention-getting by having a 90-year-old Venetian glassblower craft its borosilicate glass legs. “The bottom of the table,” she says, “is as beautiful as the top.” The few ready-made items in the house include chairs and barstools from Blu Dot, a modular sofa from de Sede, and several pieces designed by Pierre Jeanneret for the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh. Fixtures include a bathtub carved from a single piece of stone. Local plaster artist Basil Bouris covered the walls in custom lime plaster in various hues. “It’s got so much texture it’s begging you to touch,” says Mandel.

A hand-carved stone soaking tub with Axor filler stands in the primary bath. A Kohler basin is set into custom millwork.

The house needed a little exterior decorating as well. Veteran landscape architect Ciel Williams laid out a driveway that he says “fits the hills of the site like a glove.” Then he created more hills, up to six feet tall, between the driveway and the house, giving the rooms the feeling that they’re being hugged by nature. He covered those new hills with stipa grass, and he conserved the nolina (a grasslike form of agave) that cascades into the ravine, because both plants, he says, “heighten the experience of the topography.” He also conserved 100 native red oaks while bringing in even more, planting some with their trunks 20 degrees from vertical, to blend in with the oaks that have spent decades twisting and turning toward the sun. “Nature,” he says, “abhors right angles.”

Looking from the poolhouse pavilion toward the main house.

The pool, under its own curved roof, runs parallel to the creek and culminates in a clear acrylic “aquarium wall.” A few steps down from the pool deck is a kind of piazza, which the family can use for gatherings of up to 200 people. “The property is too big and too beautiful not to share,” says Delgado. From there, the underside of the house is visible, so it is covered in Douglas fir left over from the ceilings.

Austin is growing explosively, Chen says, “and a lot of land is experiencing drastic change.” That’s why this project was meaningful to the architects. “It was a way,” he says, “to explore how to coexist with nature.”

This story appears in AD’s July/August 2023 issue. To see this home in print, subscribe to AD.

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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