Location: Austin, Texas
Completion: 2016
Scope: Exterior, Interior, Site
Design Team: Darwin Harrison
Publications: Featured in Home Design & Decor Magazine June/July 2018 Edition P.26

Based on the part of a simple house a child might draw, the form is then extruded back from the street through the heavily treed lot towards the creek. The extrusion is broken in two places to form courtyards. The homeowner’s design studio is added at an angle the front and is one of two structures made from rammed earth, (an 1800s building technology with superior energy and noise dampening qualities.) The materials palette of rammed earth, stone, brick, and shingle siding provide wonderful texture and earth colors. 

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The very modern and careful way of bringing these together necessitated a clean and careful response from the lighting. Throughout, the concept of well-integrated clean lines is expressed. The concept was to reinforce the architectural gestures and enhance the expression of the materials chosen. From the linear art wall wash in the gallery corridor, to the bay window vertical lines in the guest rooms, we used simple, yet strong lines, and ten punctuated with splashes of color and geometric shapes in the applied and decorative lighting components.

The challenge of a minimalist approach is that it requires the placement of lighting support gear that must be accessible, but out of sight, and oftentimes with distance limitations to the light source. Working closely with the architect and electrician to locate remote drivers and transformers was critical to the success of the lighting, the architectural aesthetic and maintaining the system.

Minimalist architecture has a way of exposing all the building components, but sometimes a few of them want to be hidden. How do you show off the rich stone wall texture in the living without building a very un-minimal valence at the ceiling line? We worked with the architect to develop a floor mounted valence to be concealed by furniture to house a high-output linear uplight, and also placed small puck uplights in the thick wall niches to show off the depth of this wall from inside and out.

Even though the house is far from symmetrical, the architect still believed that lighting should be centered. With some presentation imagery and lots of coaxing, the architect learned to trust us and become comfortable with some off-centered lighting. This is expressed in the gallery corridor, powder bath, and kitchen.

The nearly all-LED lighting solution is a careful mix of 2700K and 3000K to allow the earth tones to be warmly expressed and create a cozy evening environment, yet be crisp enough to cleanly wash the modern art locations and recycled glass countertops. Had warm-dim been higher quality and more reliable when this project was specified, it would have been a great candidate for a 3200K to 2200K range.

 The homeowners are pleased with the expression of the architectural materials used, the minimal approach, the warm glow at night, and the low electrical bill. The Dalmatian loves the long runway of gallery corridor.