Macho Minimalism

The Wolfe Den is in it’s final stages. Little details are being completed like the front door handle and the landscaping is being installed. Becca of Rain Lilly Design has dubbed the front stone entry design “macho minimalism”. I really like that! I’m going to steal it;)

Enjoy, I am.

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more about “untitled“, posted with vodpod

Twin Peaks Explained

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more about “Twin Peaks Explained“, posted with vodpod

There seems to be a few questions about Twin Peaks on Apartment Therapy. I guess we can answer them here… Yes, the central piece seems to float off the walls. It’s structure is attached to the wall by brackets. Since the houses are not big, it allows for the eye to travel in between and it creates a much “lighter” feeling.

The finish on the center folding piece is a type of catalyzed polyurethane, it’s like a lacquer, though it is NOT technically a lacquer.

Here’re the pics we have and a wonderful article about the house by Kris Krager, a colleague, who wrote the article for an issue of Texas Architect, when the project won a State Award (TSA) I would link to the article but it’s not online anymore!

Urban/Suburban Hybrid by Chris Krager, Assoc. AIA

PROJECT: Twin Peaks, Austin ARCHITECT: M.J. Neal Architects PROJECT TEAM: M.J. Neal, AIA; Thomas Bercy; Powei Chen; Joseph Winkler; Justin Rumpeltes; Viviane Vives CONSULTANT: Jerry Garcia (Structures) PHOTOGRAPHERS: Viviane Vives; M.J. Neal

Two Austin townhouses defy increasing density and create space on a constrained suburban site.

Like many other American cities, Austin has seen a significant increase in central city development in the past five years. The realization that Austin cannot sustain the continued stretching of its urban infrastructure has led to such initiatives as Smart Growth and Traditional Neighborhood Development. These initiatives have led to relatively low-risk residential development guided primarily by builders erecting traditional housing or “soft-loft” projects priced at the top end of the market.

However, instead of relying solely on the high-end of the economic spectrum, cities such as Austin have the opportunity to deal with – economically, architecturally, and socially – the urban phenomenon of centripetal growth with innovative residential typologies. Moreover, placing suburban houses in quasi-urban environments is essentially irresponsible and results in a lost opportunity for more creative solutions.

With his Twin Peaks project, M.J. Neal, AIA, set out to challenge the unimaginative builder model with a “urban/suburban hybrid.” The problems he faced are neither unique to Austin nor without historical precedent (think of Arabian courtyard houses and urban townhouses): How to design stand-alone single-family residences with the amenities of the suburban home within neighborhoods of increased density, and how to provide residents a comfortable level of isolation on a constrained site while allowing controlled engagement with the public realm?

To successfully address these issues, a building must become an exercise in spatial economy. This Neal accomplished in Twin Peaks with choreographed movement around articulated service masses. The two buildings are essentially vertical tubes with which Neal has taken an additive/subtractive approach. Additive is service function (the central stair/storage element) and subtractive are the moments of respite (screened porches and decks). Surprisingly, while these are not large buildings (1,600 sf of air-conditioned space and 1,000 sf of exterior space), they accommodate much more than one would expect.

Neal assembled this new typology with innovative technologies – SIPS panels, steel/mdf cabinets, catalyzed polyurethane finishes, high-velocity HVAC system, and boat-building plywood, to name a few – and off-the-shelf materials that he customized to varying degrees. Continue reading

Apartment Therapy Tours Twin Peaks

It must be Twin Peaks month:-) 

Good Life Magazine and now Apartment Therapy

A house tour by Adrienne Breaux. Fantastic article and she took a bunch of pictures, there’s a pretty comprehensive slideshow.

Table designed by MJ Neal, AIA
Table designed by MJ Neal, AIA, Photo by Adrienne Breaux for Apartment Therapy

Wow, it’s SO great to see a good picture of that table. MJ can design furniture like nobody’s business. I keep wishing we had the time to start that line of furniture that’s waiting in the side lines:-). All in due time, I guess!

AT is a great site and it’s just wonderful to see the house posted there but it’s even more wonderful to see Kim and Paul enjoy and appreciate the house. We worked so hard on those houses, all of us, for over two years. We fended so much criticism, I have pages of emails of neighbors either loving them or hating them, there sure was no middle place, until… they came inside, most people fell in love with the places during the open houses, attracted by the sustainability, the light, the warmth of the materials and color, and our own love, I guess, it must’ve come through somehow… So, when Kim and Paul seem so happy there, it actually means something to us, I’m not just saying  this, we really worked so much in these homes that they are literally a part of us. Kim and Paul’s was the first in Bouldin, too… buf, I’m getting teary eyed… bleagh.

Good Life on Twin Peaks and a Little Porn

Amy Lemen wrote a wonderful article in this month’s issue of The Good Life Magazine.

Download the article’s pdf HERE.

And this reminds me of the .Inc article on the “other twin”, just to balance matters. That’s a pretty wonderful article too. 

 

 

 

 

 

If you happen to read these two articles you’ll get a pretty good idea of what’s like to live in the houses that come out of the studio.

And… if you happen to be wondering what it’s like to work with an architect, us for example, I’d recommend you read these two articles:

A Little Porn

And the sweet account from years ago, when I met MJ and he was working on Ron and Gina’s Lake house.

It makes me think of how much I’ve learned in these thirteen years, I’m grateful and lucky to be able to do what we do.  We create beauty for a living, what else can you ask for?

Posted by Viviane