Project Description2003 CHDA
Custom Home 3,000 to 5,000 Sq. Ft. / Grand Award
In planning this Texas vacation home, architect Rick Archer says, his clients asked for a “surprise house.” By all available evidence, that is exactly what they got. Certainly the neighbors in this architecturally conservative lakeside development were taken aback, and first-time visitors are bound to get more than they expect. Our judges were surprised, too. In a good way.
Approached from the courtyard, the house presents a façade of Texas sandstone, broken only by an entry that is something between a garden gate and a front door. Inside, things quickly become very interesting. Conditioned spaces are clustered in three pavilions linked by a covered, open-air circulation spine. Because the lot fronts on a man-made lake where no shoreline setback applies, Archer made the house itself the shoreline. The circulation spine opens on a stone patio with staircases that descend directly into the water. Sheltered parking includes not only a garage, but also a two-bay motor-in boathouse.
A granite outcrop on the site provided inspiration for the building's rugged, monolithic forms. A shallow “V” roof form echoes a saddle between two distant hills that the house looks out on. Our judges admired the house's bold shapes, which are rendered in stone and concrete—“basic building materials used in a very straightforward way,” one noted—and the application of cherry millwork and steel roof framing, “to relieve the brutalism of the concrete.”
Because this is a vacation home, Archer says, the owners were more open than most residential clients to an approach that draws somewhat outside the lines. But the house was designed also to be utterly practical. The pavilion-based plan allows the house to expand and contract according to the number of guests on hand. The main lakeside patio—or “beach” as Archer calls it—is an all-purpose launching platform for water sports. Despite its high-style character, one judge noted, “This house is zero-maintenance.”