This project began with the client's vision: four structures spanning two urban lots, disregarding the superficial line that divided them, organized instead around a central courtyard that would serve as communal gathering space. Even after revisions and iterations on the design, the project has stayed true to that initial concept–but like any noteworthy work, it’s also evolved. Composed of a main house, a secondary house, an accessory dwelling unit, and a garage, East Austin Outpost is an enclave for the electronic artist and music industry investor who will one day reside here, featuring an abundance of hideaways to work, sleep, socialize, and create.
In total, across its four structures, East Austin Outpost houses nine bedrooms. Rather than private sleeping quarters designated for specific individuals, these spaces are flexible in purpose, meant to oscillate between guest rooms, offices, and creative nooks. Primarily, however, they were designed for the couple who will live here most often. Case in point, Plural’s Director of Design, Adelle York, worked with the resident DJ of East Austin Outpost to determine the practical parameters that would transform one of those rooms into a studio space, ensuring it was large enough for an assistant, collaborators, and the artist’s synth racks, but also comfortable enough to engender a sense of intimacy.
All of the structures surround a courtyard, where outdoor lounge and dining spaces abound. Just inside the south wall a cluster of trees leads to an open air bar, which faces the pool–a spine of open space that terminates at a large heritage tree. In effect, this natural element informs the positioning of the outdoor spaces, providing a focal point that organizes the structures around the site.
From the street, the main house’s flat roof, white stucco, and terracotta tile introduce East Austin Outpost to passersby and modulate its tone to the heritage of its surroundings. A planted screenwall along the property’s edge increases the home’s privacy while also providing a porous, positive streetscape for the neighborhood. The structure’s curved exterior walls mimic traditional adobe and other earthen structures, while filleted corners and archtop openings on the windows add custom flourishes. To manage heat gain, a light exterior color lends the home a high solar reflectance, an essential design consideration in Austin’s notoriously scorching climate.
The front door opens to the kitchen, a long, narrow space that forms a bridge between the main house’s public and private spaces. Here a bar with sinks, ample dining and food prep space, and a gas range extends the length of the room. Beyond the wall of windows to the west a screened porch looks out to the pool.
To the south the open living and dining area is organized around the grand piano it’s home to–an invaluable keepsake gifted to the resident DJ by her lifelong piano teacher. Given both its significance and the musical leanings of the owners, a great deal of consideration went into where this instrument sits with respect to window openings and the flow of the living room. Instead of tucked away, the piano is set in a place of prominence, in the property’s primary indoor living space, where its music can be enjoyed by all.
To the north, two bedrooms, two and a half baths, and a mudroom surround stairs to the second floor, which lead to the primary suite. As with the rest of the home, here, pine composes the hardwood floors and ceilings, as well as the exposed structural beams. The communication between the bedroom and bathroom is unobstructed, with the bed resting against a central partition that’s open to either side. To the north of this space, directly above the kitchen, a roof deck opens the possibility for more socialization and also includes its own outdoor kitchenette.
One of the structures, the secondary home, was already on the lot before plans for East Austin Outpost took form. Rather than leveling the structure and building anew, Plural designed around its preservation, which is always the more sustainable choice. Still, the owner’s vision included a dining room where there had been a living room. Instead of renovating the old living room, Plural added a new one to the north end of the structure and repurposed the old one into the desired dining space. When it comes to sustainability, less is always more, and actions like these–preservation and repurposing–align with that value.
Engineering: Tsen Engineering
Contractor: The Colby Company