Court Houses

Court Houses are the result of our desire to increase density within the urban core of Austin. Instead of building one single family residence on a city lot, we built two.

The lot is on a corner, which provided separate points of access. The surrounding neighborhood context is a mixture of residential projects and city and private development infrastructure. This infrastructure, located across each street forming the corner, informed a courtyard design for the houses as a way to mitigate their presence and provide a private refuge.

Formally each house is an L, opposing one another to create a perimeter boundary surrounding an internal courtyard. The courtyard is bisected by a mixed red handmade brick wall as it weaves through the property, providing both physical and visual separation between each house, as well as a contrast to the smooth steel troweled white stucco used to clad the houses.

The first floors are separated, and these opposing separations provide passage into the courtyard and subsequent entry for each house. The second floors are joined above these exterior passages due to zoning restrictions, however distinct separation is achieved through framing and ceiling heights.

The overall massing of the project was conceived as a stark white square box with the middle removed. From this box we began to carve into the mass and create overhangs and perpendicular walls into which we inserted most of the glazing. On the street side of the houses this both provides shade for the glazing and orients views up and down the streets, as opposed to across the street to the surrounding infrastructure. In the courtyard the overhangs provide covered exterior living and dining areas, and extensive glazing was used facing the courtyard to capture daylight, while careful placement maintains privacy between the houses.

There was extensive bamboo on the property prior to construction. We harvested all that was in the footprint of the project and created a series of privacy and shading screens with the bamboo. These provide a delicate contrast to the massive fields of stucco and provide dynamic shadows and shade. Smart building technology was used throughout construction in order to reduce future consumption of energy. The siting, orientation and courtyard design result in low solar heat gain with plenty of daylighting.

Photography Credit: Ryann Ford, Jackie Young and Chris Stout
Faye + Walker Architecture
1224 East 12th Street Suite 314S
Austin, Texas 78702
t: (512) 656-0300