Alterstudio Architecture - Alta Vista, a private natural enclave in the midst of a bustling city
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Alta Vista, a private natural enclave in the midst of a bustling city

Alterstudio Architecture

Villa  /  Completed
Alterstudio Architecture

The Alta Vista Residence is situated in a pre-war neighborhood in central Austin where rising property value has encouraged a much higher density for its 7101sf lots, engorging or replacing the original bungalows that once populated its tree-lined streets. In a sense, this design is also a counter-proposal to the immodesties of such urban transformation. Here, the existing disposition of the street is maintained, albeit with a new temperament – and the serenity of living in a private natural enclave is rediscovered in the midst of a bustling city.

The Alta Vista Residence slips nonchalantly into Austin’s Travis Heights neighborhood and deftly situates itself at the edge of the Blunn Creek escarpment and between several significant Live Oak trees. From the street, a delicate roof defines entry and carport, respectively, and floats above a vertical-board-formed-concrete wall – which in turn protects the privacy of the interior while still engaging the neighborhood.

The project begins with an efficient plan and compact volume that is oriented for energy efficiency and optimizing relationships with the natural surroundings. Glazed areas are oriented towards the surrounding tree canopy and shaded by deep porches and overhangs. The constraints of the large Live Oak trees created a fundamental link between the house and its natural surroundings, with the foundation being tuned to the root zone of the trees and the fenestration taking advantage of the canopies. Moreover, the concrete walls and steel paneling that define the exterior surfaces are both dexterous and tough enough to age gracefully while resisting the negative consequences of weathering. The Project has received 2023 TxA Design Award and 2023 AIA Housing Awards.

The house foregrounds a magnificent Live Oak, around which the visitor enters under its meandering limbs and across a modest bridge into a carefully choreographed sequence of spaces – where hints of what is to come are everywhere and surprising delights at the turn of a corner. Once inside, the interior opens resolutely to the out-of-doors and into the canopies of two more Live Oaks. 24.5’ of sliding panels disappear into an adjacent wall and open the main room, now 10’ off the ground, into an incredible new private landscape. A 600sf ADU and an extra 1300sf below take advantage of the change in section (and Austin’s FAR exemptions), tucking unobtrusively into the hillside and opening onto this new landscape behind, while a third-floor room secures the opportunity for long views beyond this private world.

Careful attention to detail is ubiquitous, and abstraction is utilized to focus attention on the subtlety of light, material and circumstance. Here, board-formed concrete is set against rift-sawn White Oak, and anchors the interiors against the ever-present pull of the out-of-doors.

The Project presented the opportunity to live in a landscape while simultaneously a few blocks from the best of Austin’s restaurants and live-music venues. The owners have found great joy in living connected to the out-of-doors and in close proximity to neighbors, without having to rely on curtains to maintain their privacy. The residence has exceeded our clients’ expectations in being a home that simultaneously supports their lifestyle and provides a constant source of interest and delight.


 Texas, USA
 356 mq
 Ernesto Cragnolino
 Kevin alter, Tim Whitehill, Michael Woodland, Matt Slusarek, Haifa Hammami, Shelley McDavid
 Abode Modern Homes (Richard White)
 MJ Structures (Structural: Samuel Young, PE), Capital Geotechnical Service (Geotechnical Engineer, Nicholas F. Kauffman, PE), Aleman Design Build (Hans-Jürgen Dietrich)
 Casey Dunn


Alterstudio Architecture is known for its intellect in design, inventiveness, craftsmanship, and details. The work is rooted in deep-seated virtues of architecture; generous space making, shrewd manipulation of day-lighting, and meticulous attention to detail. We believe that architecture should deepen our everyday experience at the same time that it elevates our awareness of a larger, changing world – and that the way a space feels is as important as how it looks.
The practice specializes in precise and creative buildings, landscapes and interiors that sensitively respond to their environment and ecologies of place. We promote an ecological responsive design that acknowledges the impact of finite resources as a positive contributor in the creation of an ethical architecture. Our approach to sustainable design goes beyond logistical and mechanical elements, to create an architecture that is uplifting to its users and in harmony with its cultural context and natural surroundings.


#Finalist #Steel  #Concrete  #Wood  #Glass  #Residence  #Wood Cladding  #Concrete Structure  #Austin  #Metal cladding  #Alterstudio Architecture  #Texas, USA 

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