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The Riverside Holiday Cabins That Friendship Built

Friends who build stay together. At least that is what four couples, who have been best friends for years, are hoping with their four personalized cottages on a combined piece of property in Llano, Texas, about an hour from Austin. The group of eight has increased their families together with one another because college and have been going on holiday each year together. They pooled their funds to buy a unique place where everyone can congregate yearly, settling on a granite-strewn 10-acre lot close to the always-flowing Llano River, where angling, canoeing, tubing, fishing and swimming are everyday pursuits.

At first they spoke about building one big house for everyone to share about the house. But everyone’s individual needs didn’t get them much. Instead, together with all the creative assistance of architect Matt Garcia, they assembled individual 350-square-foot studio cottages suited to each family, all sharing an identical layout ethos: low tech, low care and high design. Here’s a tour of a few of those cottages.

at a Glance
Who lives here: That is a holiday home to get a husband and wife. (Three other families live in similar nearby cottages)
Location: Llano, Texas
Size: 350-square-foot studio
Budget: $40,000 per cottage

Photos by Alexander Stross

The cherry roof cantilevers 6 feet outside, developing a front overhang. The corrugated metal exterior contrasts with a hot plywood layout interior.

Four-by-8 sheets of plywood were used for all the cottage interiors to save cost and include character. “Nobody wanted slick white walls,” Garcia says. “We wanted to do a modern form with rustic information.” The grain also adds a textually graphic element and a vibrant golden color.

The homeowners who discuss this cottage both work at a landscape design company — he’s the designer; she’s the office supervisor. Instead of closed cabinets, they needed everything to be on screen, with a few baskets to help arrange. Many of the cottage owners are in the paper business, and another one is a writer, so desk space was significant. Plus, all the buddies are avid readers, so lots of space for books was crucial.

The modules are 30 feet deep, with large front windows which look out toward the Llano River, about 100 metres away. The interior design components, such as the exposed rafters, were deliberately kept simple. “We needed to keep the building fair and not cover anything up,” Garcia says. “We wanted it rustic and fair, to expose everything.”

The floors are poured concrete with a semigloss sealer. Garcia didn’t desire something supershiny but did want it to reflect and bounce light, making soft reflections of the vegetation out.

Steel angled shelves bolted into the wall grip the couple’s books.

Two sets of windows are on either side of the cottage to bring in light but keep privacy. Not one of the neighbors could see into another’s cottage from their own.

The furniture is pieces that the homeowners have had in storage for years. “The couples were excited to finally be able to use furniture they hadn’t used in quite a while,” the architect says. Designer Jodi Jacobsen did all the interiors. She moved with industrial light fixtures.

There’s a mini fridge and a hot dish in a corner of the tub. The glass and metal sconces are the very same ones featured on the exterior.

Each few chose another tile colour for their cottage. Here grey is dominant, emphasized with a black stripe.

Jacobsen had initially found mirrors she enjoyed for $750 each at Restoration Hardware, but Garcia had a steel fabricator buddy bend flat bar to make this model; the cost was $200 for all four.

After moving in, the cottage owners found that they needed additional storage in the kitchen to get mugs and glasses. Garcia came up with this shelving system made from plywood with threaded bars and nuts which imitates the style used on the cantilevered section of the roof. “I needed it to speak to this detail out,” he says.

Learn how to make a similar industrial-style shelving unit

Rainwater collection tanks are attached to each cottage and help irrigate the surrounding vegetation area. Electricity, heating and air conditioning are also available in each unit.

Even though the four couples’ cottages are near together, they are still afforded lots of solitude. And despite a steep, rugged property, the landscape designer managed to discover a level place that allows the units share the exact same elevation.

A group trip to the Llano River, shown here, is exactly what spurred the idea for those buddies to build holiday cottages together.

Tell us : Have you socialized with buddies on a holiday getaway?

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8 Matters an Architect Will Never Say

There are certain phrases which are innately nonarchitectural. Not that phrase, naturally. However, other less wordy phrases that are direct. I mean, that phrase had the word “innately” inside, so it’s definitely architectural. However, some things you just don’t expect to hear by your designer, like,”I really don’t drink coffee,” or “We must experiment with colour,” or “I really don’t be worried about the economy”

In fact, there are some things which I would guess have not been uttered by an architect. Ever.

Like these, for instance.

Pllc, Jody Brown Architecture

Pllc, Jody Brown Architecture

Pllc, Jody Brown Architecture

Pllc, Jody Brown Architecture

Jody Brown Architecture, pllc

Jody Brown Architecture, pllc

Jody Brown Architecture, pllc

Jody Brown Architecture, pllc

So, what if your architect says one of these phrases? Obviously you’ve confused him or her for someone else. But don’t worry. It happens to me all of the time.

All the photos are of Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut chapel, in Ronchamp, France, that is totally something an architect would say.

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Architect's Toolbox: Bridges That Unite Home and Land

What’s it all about bridges that fascinates us? Perhaps it’s their ability to connect two things. Or maybe it’s their potency (Brooklyn Bridge), majesty (Golden Gate Bridge) and sophistication (Sunshine Skyway Bridge).

Just enjoy their big-scale brethren, bridges that connect a home to its land can evoke the identical sense of joy and wonder. While some are tenuous and ethereal, others are all about force and motion. At times the power of the bridge splits the home in 2, and sometimes the home is sufficiently powerful to force the bridge to change direction.

Whatever the case, bridges that connect a home to its site have always intrigued me. So let us look at some home bridges.

Randy Brown

A celebration of light and elevation, a luminous bridge connects a radiant home to its site. Entering the tube-shape bridge, with its translucent skin, reinforces the idea that one is leaving the planet at large to enter a world of light and geometry.

Axis Mundi

Can it be an observation tower, sculpture or a home? In any case, the bridge supplies that ever-so-tenuous connection to the ground and continues on, dividing the home into up and down while forming an overlook.

Ian Moore Architects

This bridge becomes a walkway that creates a dynamism that splits the home in 2. With a hint of what’s past, the bridge beckons us to start the travel and charge full speed ahead.

Joseph T. Deppe, Architect, P.C.

Although this bridge draws us in, the stairs up ahead block our view of what lies outside. Can it be a view of the sea? Maybe it’s a view of a preserve. In any case, the puzzle won’t be solved until we traverse the bridge and climb the staircase.

MN Builders

While the simple, shallow gable roof juts ahead to invite us in, this simple and elegant bridge helps us browse the abyss. And there have to be some pretty pleasant views of the town from indoors, given the views we receive from the bridge as we all journey to the door.

Ken Gutmaker Architectural Photography

As we cross this bridge, the inside of the residence is laid out before us. We get to understand where we’re moving nicely before we arrive and know that we will be thrilled with the views of the town outside.

Though the medieval drawbridge was not meant to welcome, now’s version can, with a more friendly and welcoming layout. This one traverses the stream bed below.

Sagan / Piechota Architecture

So what happens if the bridge does not make it all the way over to another side of the ravine? Maybe all of the movement’s energy binds itself into a coil that unwinds as it finds its way into the floor.

Jeff Luth – Soldano Luth Architects

Maybe the bridge is a decompression chamber that allows one to relax before getting to the destination. An elevated and floating platform with a ribbon to get a roof and an articulated structure that creates a different rhythm all fortify the bridge as only such a chamber.

Levy Art + Architecture

Last, what goes on below the bridge is at least as important as the bridge itself and what it connects. So if a garden or a patio or a water feature lies under, make that distance special. Don’t, as T.S. Eliot bemoans at The Four Quartets, allow the “large, brown god” river below the bridge be “almost forgotten.”

More Architect’s Toolbox:
Roofs That Connect Earth and Sky

Locating the Space Between

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Global Architecture Style: Victorian

For most people, the term “Victorian architecture” defines a diverse but singular style. The reality is that this term encompasses several architectural styles, all which were used throughout the mid to late 19th century. The name, of course, comes from the dominating British queen at the time: Queen Victoria.

Victorian homeowners were very social; dinner parties happened several times a week and consisted of pre- and postmeal pursuits. For these socialites, acquiring a home that has been impressive and constructed in the latest style has been key. (The ornate look was shortly spurned, however, by the evolution of new construction technology, especially the availability of affordable wood and the ability to incorporate steel into buildings.)

Though Victorian design is suspended in England, it rapidly spread globally as British architects began to emigrate to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Eventually, improved communications in the 19th century began to notify global architects of the most up-to-date and greatest styles and trends, and the Victorian influence grew.

Still, the exact Victorian period of time and names of architectural styles differ from country to country. In the USA, Victorian style was popular from 1860 to 1900. San Francisco in particular is well-known for its Victorian architecture. In Australia, the Victorian period has been recognized from 1840 to 1890. Melbourne’s world-heritage Royal Exhibition Building and Rialto Building are both good examples of classic Victorian architecture in Australia.

Most Victorian-era homes unite several different styles and attributes, but the following is a basic principle for the most popular Victorian architectural styles.

Dijeau Poage Construction

Second Empire
This style developed as American towns began to expand in the size and style. The Second Empire represented a new kind of urban architecture, inspired in fantastic part from the apartment buildings in Paris and other western European cities. Often, these were highly ornamented buildings with a tall and horizontal facade, topped with a mansard-style curved roof. Long dormer windows frequently sat at the peak of the building, and bay windows were common too. These homes generally had a rectangular floor plan with a central hallway and double entry doors.

Gothic Revival
These ancient Victorian houses reinvented the basic structures of medieval temples and churches in a more approachable way. They frequently have the stereotypical Victorian attributes: multiple colors, textured walls, steeply pitched roofs and complex vergeboard (also referred to as gingerbread) below the gables. Board-and-batten siding was a popular feature, but it was generally used vertically rather than in the more traditional flat style.

Queen Anne
The Queen Anne style is thought to be the most recognizable of the Victorian-era houses. These houses were very popular from the 1870s through the 1900s and were heavily influenced by British architect Richard Norman Shaw. The style is often characterized by ornamentation and surplus — steep rooflines and porches with decorative gables, circular towers, decorative windows and entry doors, bay windows and a huge array of colors and textures.

Between Naps on the Porch

Stick Eastlake
As materials became more accessible and affordable, craftspeople became more creative with the uses of framing and wood, which can be understood in Stick Eastlake houses. These homes have more decorative trusswork with a mix of horizontal and vertical planes. The roofs normally have a steep pitch and easy gables. Shingle style is quite similar, due to the unusual utilization of affordable wood products. In these houses, the entire exterior can be coated in shingles.

HartmanBaldwin Design/Build

Folk Victorian
As substances became less expensive, working-class families were able to build and design their own houses. Victorian romanticism was combined with classic English cottage and American homestead style to create the Folk Victorian. These homes, usually found in more rural settings, blend functionality with ornamentation, including gingerbread-accented wraparound porches and the vibrant use of local materials. Nonetheless, these homes are often more simply designed than urban houses of the same period.

McDugald-Steele

Italianate
Italianate Victorian houses were considered a combination of classical and formal styles, and were frequently inspired by state villas from the Old World. These houses were constructed in rectangular segments to mimic the look of Italian-style villas. The arches of traditional Roman architecture were often blended with the detail which became possible with new construction technology of the moment. Other common features include large porches with decorative eaves, paired arched windows, Corinthian columns, horizontal or low-pitched roofs and a central square tower or cupola.

Read more photographs of Victorian style

More Victorian Homes:
A moderate and Intelligent Victorian
The Green Gambrel House
Mission District Row House

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Hello Again, Umbrella House

In the early 1950s, land programmer Philip Hiss teamed up with architect Paul Rudolph to create one of the 20th century’s most iconic houses, the Umbrella House at Sarasota, Fla.. The house in the community of Lido Shores is a good instance of how modernism can be implemented at a suburban, Florida Gulf Coast context. This home and many others neighboring became called the Sarasota School of Modernism.

Constructed as a”spec” house, the Umbrella House steps about 2,000 square feet and can be developed on a 32-inch module, the width of a normal Sears jalousie window. The dominant characteristic of the house, the aptly called”umbrella,” was originally constructed of wood and used to shade the house from the intense Florida sunlight. After years of decay and hurricane damage, the”umbrella” was all but gone from the end of the 1970s.

New owners Vincent and Julie Ciulla of all Ciulla Design have revived much of the umbrella, now constructing it of aluminum. The Ciullas say the umbrella displays the house so well their cooling bills are reduced by 30 per cent, a nod to Rudolph’s forward-looking and sustainable design.

More regional contemporary design

Ciulla Design

The south of the house is glass. The original umbrella extended out to surround and shade the pool space. The Ciullas intend to reestablish the umbrella as it had been, having already placed footings for the new columns.

The spatial organization of the house can also be viewed here. A large, two-story centre space is flanked with two piled bedrooms on the left and a kitchen with bedroom over on the right. The 32-inch module of this off-the-shelf jalousie windows is also evident.

Ciulla Design

The umbrella overlooks the north side of the house, facing the road. This view clearly shows the vertical columns of jalousie windows and institution of this 32-inch module used to plan your house. Translucent at the bottom floor for privacy, these jalousies permit for a substantial amount of cross ventilation.

What I particularly love about the umbrella is that the way the shadows from it fall across the surface of the house. The pattern is similar to the darkened portions of so a lot of Rudolph’s drawings.

Ciulla Design

The restored umbrella floats over the house. Though Rudolph would later became one of the prime practitioners of Brutalism, his Sarasota houses have a mild and nearly impermanent quality, as if the whole thing may be rapidly disassembled and moved.

Ciulla Design

The columns which support the umbrella are all articulated and independent of the house structure. It is as if a sizable open tent was constructed and a box positioned under it.

Ciulla Design

The house features a”dumbbell” plan with a two-story space along the rear flanked by piled bedrooms on one side and a kitchen with second-floor bedroom on the opposite. The bridge which connects the two upstairs bedrooms is a loft area and can be a few steps lower compared to the bedroom degree. This creates a very low ceiling at the entry area that’s quite Wrightian in feel. The dialogue pit with fireplace and hearth is below this attic. It is as if one has to input a cave to get close to the fire.

Every bedroom overlooks the main living space. These windows can be closed off for privacy. The bedrooms also contain built in wardrobes that jut out to the main living room to make shelves for artwork and a television.

Following is a photo of this home since it had been under construction. Though nobody knows for sure, It is considered that Paul Rudolph took the photo, which can be from the south-southwest and reveals the full umbrella as originally imagined. Lido Shores is a really different place today with a lot more vegetation, houses and traffic.

The original view from the rear of the house was around Sarasota Bay. Subsequent development and a great deal of new vegetation produces this view available just in the history books.

This is a view taken in the west shortly after the house was completed.

Following is a vintage picture of the original, Rudolph-designed fence which surrounded the house. The Ciullas are restoring this weapon as part of the total restoration of the house.

Read more about the Home and restoration on the Umbrella House website and Facebook page.

More:
Sexy, Modern Florida Getaway
Modern or Contemporary: What is the Difference?
Glass Box Architecture Endures
More regional contemporary design

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