Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) is a reservoir that was built on the Colorado River where it passes through the US city of Austin, Texas, for the purposes of containing floods and providing a leisure facility in the region..
The climate in the area is characterised by hot summers and mild daytime temperatures in winter, with relatively low rainfall all year round. Nearby can be found Edgeland House, designed by the Belgium-Taiwanese firm Bercy Chen Studio for a science fiction writer. Its design stands out among the numerous typical family homes in this corner of Texas.
The architects managed to reinterpret one of the oldest types of building in America, a pit house sunk into the ground so that they could make the most of the land’s thermal inertia. The house, barely 130 square metres on a single floor, sits two metres below ground level and can only be recognised as such as one approaches it and stumbles across a crack that runs from end to end to divide the inside into two well-defined areas: the living and sleeping quarters.
The surrounding natural plant life, from which the architects also drew inspiration, was made to form part of the design with the help of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The result is a green roof that almost completely makes the house invisible from the outside. Apart from making the house blend in with its surroundings, this construction method maintains the inside of the home at a constant temperature and, therefore, keeps energy bills down.
This is not the only heating system used in this project for improving comfort indoors. In coherence with the rest of the design, a system of radiators was installed that works with water at low temperatures. This makes energy consumption, whether to heat or air condition the house, considerably lower. This high performance system of circulating water is rounded off by the home’s fantastic pool. Reached by crossing the central corridor that runs through the house, the pool’s water volume also serves as an additional thermal mass.
The views from the central corridor of the house are particularly appealing in this natural landscape and its shape ventilates the whole of the house as if it were a continuous patio.
Pictures: Paul Bardagjy