Piano House is more than just a house. It’s an ensemble of structures outside of Fredericksburg, Texas that includes a primary residence, a workshop, a vegetable garden, and a rainwater collection system. The couple who commissioned the project dreamt for decades of a resilient, energy efficient home, one that integrated with the environment of the Hill Country and thrummed in time with their interests in music, gardening, and woodworking. In Piano House that's exactly what they've gained: something thoughtful and well-built. Something that will last.
Piano House finds harmony–between those priorities and its environmental context–in natural, locally sourced materials. Rough cut blocks of white limestone clad the exteriors of the residence and the workshop, helping to keep the residence cool and blending both structures with the outcroppings and bluffs that dot the property. White oak siding also adds warmth and texture to the interior and exterior of the residence and connects it to the surrounding red, white, and live oaks.
The entry to the residence, the centerpiece of the property, sets Piano House’s tone. Here, a south-facing wall of windows offers views to the Hill Country, a panorama that serves as backdrop to the baby grand that is the project’s namesake. Beside the piano rests a wooden pram, handmade by the owner out of white oak and mahogany, with oars of cedar and Douglas fir. Special care was taken to ensure these items are not only highlighted upon entry, but also protected from UV exposure, moisture, and temperature change.
The walls of limestone that complete the framing of these items are the only ones that continue into Piano House’s interior, showcasing its natural composition. From the entry the house opens to both sides, on the sleeping quarters to the west and an open kitchen, living, and dining area to the east. Windows throughout these spaces gaze down a rugged slope toward the spring fed creeks and karst limestone bluffs of the Pedernales River Valley.
Thanks to passive building principles and smart, sustainable choices on the part of the owners, Piano House stays hydrated and cool. The property’s water supply is sourced from a 50,000-gallon rainwater cistern capable of providing fresh water for up to nine months in the event of a drought. Most of the windows across the property face south, where the sun angles can be controlled. And even on the harshest of summer days, a broad, highly reflective roof shades the high-performing windows, managing solar gain and filling the spaces with ambient light. Continuous insulation and thermally separated steel complete the residence’s envelope—an enclosure designed to keep the home comfortable, while minimizing its use of energy.
Builder: Hominick Homes
Structural: Fort Structures
Sustainability Consultant: Toner Home Matters
Landscape Architect: coLAB workshop