Tree House

Perched on a serene, wooded landscape, Tree House is a collaborative endeavor between Faye + Walker and a client with a shared background in architecture, as well as a vision of the expansive land nestled among Live Oak trees. The initial phase of the project, conceived as a temporary retreat, seamlessly evolved into a permanent residence during a second phase of design a few years later, reflecting a thoughtful integration with the natural landscape.

The exterior staircase, inspired by the timber constructions of architect Peter Zumthor for both the Stielneset Memorial and the Allmannajuvet Zinc Mine Museum, anchors the house as a central plinth. Differentiated from the volumes containing the living quarters of the house, the staircase showcases a harmonious blend of structural integrity and aesthetic allure. Around the staircase, three white volumes organize a house for a couple and their grown daughters. While the first phase of the project involved the construction of a full house contained in a single volume, the second phase adapted the residence to family growth, transforming the original volume into a fully equipped guest house to accommodate the owner's grown daughters and their families. Two new volumes contain the couple's sleeping quarters en suite, and a double height living room next to a kitchen on the ground floor, and a studio space on a mezzanine above. This flexibility reflects a design philosophy that caters to evolving familial needs, and enables the possibility of turning the studio space into new guest quarters.

The material palette employed throughout the project demonstrates a careful selection process. Cedar is used on the exterior staircase, complemented by maple cladding and Turkish black marble internally. The transition to the second phase of design offered an opportunity to evaluate the durability of materials employed years earlier in the first phase, and introduced thermally modified pine for the exterior staircase, enhancing both durability and design continuity.

Meticulously integrating with the natural surroundings, the project considers topography for the layout of load bearing walls and openings with views to the expansive landscape. Standing seam metal, locally sourced and fabricated, forms the exterior, while plywood interiors emphasize simplicity and sustainability. The residence's ability to reduce maintenance needs through the use of thermally modified wood further underscores its commitment to enduring design principles. Interior spaces showcase maple cladding, Turkish black marble, and strategically placed windows. This deliberate design prioritizes connections with the natural surroundings, creating a serene living experience that resonates throughout the residence.

The involvement of Faye + Walker was evident through consistent site visits, fostering close collaboration with the contractor. This hands-on approach ensured the alignment of design intent and execution, resulting in a project where meticulous details contribute to the overall design integrity.

The architectural journey of Tree House unfolds as a seamless blend of design evolution, recognition, and functional adaptation. From its roots as a temporary retreat to its current status as a permanent home, this residence stands as a testament to enduring architectural excellence in the heart of the Texas hills.

Photography Credit: Leonid Furmansky
Faye + Walker Architecture
1224 East 12th Street Suite 314S
Austin, Texas 78702
t: (512) 656-0300