Austin is well known for its outdoor-friendly vibe. Trails, parks and pools abound, but sometimes it can be a challenge to carve outdoor living spaces into urban lots. The Bouldin Creek project by Patrick Ousey and Pam Chandler, the husband and wife team of Austin’s FAB Architecture, beautifully integrates five functional outdoor living spaces among the trees, giving the homeowners privacy and a connection to nature that is surprising in such an urban area.
“Our clients are long-time Austinites and lived in the hills west of Austin. They really wanted to be close to downtown but were accustomed to beautiful natural views. When we saw the lot, we knew that we could get the views if we went vertical enough,” says Chandler. Each level of the home provides a different connection to nature, with five outdoor spaces that each has a different personality and function. Upon arrival, you enter an intimate lower level courtyard that features a monumental concrete retaining wall. The wall, which was already on the property, provides visual continuity through the adjacent guest suite. Although the home is in a busy area, the courtyard, through placement and landscape, provides an immediate and quiet respite from nearby traffic.
Each level of the home provides a unique connection to the surrounding trees. As you move upward from the entry courtyard into the living area, the main terrace welcomes you. Sliding doors move aside, extending the living area to the outdoors. Planters pull the landscape up, providing a buffer to the street below and obscuring the railings as the plantings mature. Lueders limestone pavers are situated on pedestals and mask a drainage mat underneath, where water is collected to basement cisterns for storage.
Two additional balcony terraces of Ipé wood flank the master suite on the north and south sides. “As you come up the stairs, you see these defining oak trees on each side,” says Chandler. “It really gives you the sense that you are in a treehouse.” The terraces are peaceful extensions of the indoor spaces and are often the chosen spot for morning coffee. Their locations amongst the tree branches did require some creativity on the part of FAB Architecture and the homebuilder, Royce Flournoy of Texas Construction Company. “The project was intricate in terms of the site and the vegetation,” says Flournoy. As the framing went up, the team realized that some railing would need to be modified to accommodate a particularly close branch, but happily made the modifications in order to preserve the tree canopy.
The rooftop terrace truly maximizes the location with a dazzling panoramic view of downtown Austin. The clients spend their winters in Texas, so the perch includes cool-weather amenities like a hot tub and a fireplace, which were carefully lifted by crane. Modern, yet comfortable white seating discreetly compliments the striking views as friends gather.
The project ultimately proves that you don’t need to sacrifice interface with nature in urban spaces. “We are really proud that we were able to work within all the boundaries that the site provided. It was, at times, a tough nut but we were able to capitalize on the entire site and on every aspect of the experience as the house stacks up,” says Chandler.
ARCHITECT FAB Architecture
512-469-0775 | www.fabarchitecture.com
BUILDER Texas Construction Company
512-451-8050 | www.txconstruct.com