Inspired by historic fire towers, this breathtaking three-level Texan home is perfectly embedded in a challenging lakeside slope.
Faced with a steep hillside plot and stunning lake views just beyond the tree canopy, San Antonio-based firm
Commissioned by a client who spent childhood summers at the same lake, Blue Lake Retreat was created as a
While Western red cedar clads the least vulnerable northern facade, the three other facades are covered in rusted, corrugated steel for protection against harsh exposures. The exposed structure is also made of steel. A hybrid system of steel and wood framing was used to reduce the home’s embodied energy. The home is securely anchored into the hillside with a reinforced concrete foundation.
Yet the drive for durability and worry-free maintenance didn’t preclude the Blue Lake Flathouse’s elegant design and surprising sense of lightness. Transparency was achieved not only through ample glazing, but also with the architects’ decision to place the
The undeniable highlight of the home is the top floor that houses the main
A welcoming of nature can also be seen in the materials chosen for the modern interiors, which include white gypsum board walls and rift sawn white oak cabinets and flooring. Naturally durable Cumaru wood selected for the outdoor decks will weather naturally and develop a silvery patina over time.
“Reducing the home’s conditioned space to the minimum required to serve the client’s needs helps Blue Lake Retreat achieve a more responsible stewardship of our natural resources,” Lake Flato told Dwell.com. “Its use of outdoor spaces resulting in a smaller conditioned building, along with a tighter envelope and highly efficient mechanical units, have all contributed to lowering its energy usage. In addition, continued energy monitoring will help to ensure that the home will perform at optimal energy efficiency.”
Designed to replace a 1970s house, Blue Lake Retreat was built in the same location as the original structure but with a smaller footprint, which allowed the design team to reseed part of the landscape with native plants.
“Arguably, the most successful aspect of Blue Lake Retreat’s design is extroverting the majority of the home’s program, thus affording many opportunities for the client and her family to engage with nature and not just look out at the surrounding scenery,” continued Lake Flato. “With more gathering spaces outside than inside, Blue Lake Retreat offers a true connection to nature.”
Architect of Record:
Builder: Duecker Construction Company / Glen Duecker
Landscape Design Company:
Interior Design: Plus Two Interiors / Hilary Crady