It’s pretty rare to encounter a project where the client is also the builder or the architect. These cases are interesting because they offer a glimpse into the minds of those that actually build homes for a living and we get to see what they’re idea of a perfect home is. The Tetra House is a perfect example. It’s located in Austin, Texas and it was built in 2016. This was a project by Bercy Chen Studio, a company founded in 2001 and with a special interest in innovative designs based on sustainable models.

The house doesn’t have a unified single volume but instead it’s organized into several spaces
The volumes are all organized around a central courtyard
One of the spaces is cantilevered and forms a protected parking space underneath

The house is a single-family residence with a structure arranged around a small courtyard. The courtyard includes a swimming pool and a gravel garden with Japanese maple trees. All the volumes organized around it have large windows facing it as well as sliding doors that offer direct access in here. This specific window type suits the design as well as the overall layout of the house.

The interior courtyard contains a swimming pool and a lovely gravel garden
All the volumes have large windows that overlook the courtyard

The overall design of the house is inspired by Mexican modernism seeing how the client’s wife is from Mexico and all. This inspired a series of specific elements such as the poured-in-place concrete walls or the actual courtyard house typology applied here.

Even the shower room has windows that let in the light and connect it to the outdoors
The interior is well-organized and has well-defined spaces and functions
There’s a floor height difference between the various volumes and this makes it even easier to delineate the functions

A noticeable floor height difference can be observed between the various volumes arranged around the courtyard. Together with the layout the help better delineate the spaces and differentiate the functions. The house is basically a series of layered and intersecting volumes which interact with each other seamlessly and naturally.

The kitchen and the dining area share the same open space and they’re decorated with a lot of wood
A cozy L-shaped bench sofa frames this lounge space and gets to enjoy closeness to the garden
The transition between the indoor spaces and the courtyard is smooth and seamless

As far as the interior design goes, the house is very cozy and inviting. The materials used are simple and the colors and inspired by nature. The oval dining table blends well with the rectangular kitchen island, softening the harsh lines and square angles. The color palette is warm and based mostly on browns which are complemented by shades of blue that echo the water and the sky.

The staircase corridor is illuminated by long hanging pendant lamps that give it a sophisticated look
The private spaces are situated on the upper level from where they enjoy panoramic views of the surroundings

The upper level is dedicated to private spaces such as the bedrooms and the bathrooms. Check out this cool shower niche and the simplicity of the whole design. A freestanding tub is placed on the other side of the divider, maintaining a good distribution and a comfortable and intimate decor.

The bathroom has a skylight a well as full height windows with opaque glass on the lower two thirds

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