Summer camp

Cabin gets upclose and personal with its surroundings

"A deft use of simple materials coupled with a wonderful sense of restraint helps the house merge naturally into its environment."
- jury comment

HONOR AWARD, Barbee Association, with Mary Helen Pratte, Austin, TX
This 1,000-square-foot guest cabin captured the jury's attention because of its straightforward approach to building, its sensitivity to nature, and the way it celebrates indoor-outdoor living.

The site, near Austin, Texas, borders an aquifer recharge zone, so a restricted footprint was important. The choice of the material for the cabin floor was environmentally sensitive as well: It's made of Trex, a decking lumber manufactured from recycled plastic bags, reclaimed pallet wrap, and waste wood. A network of concrete piers helps the primarily wood-framed structure appear to float above the land. A standing-seam metal butterfly-shaped roof directs rainwater into a large aboveground cistern located outside the living room.

The layout is simplicity itself: The heart of the house is a large screened porch containing the living-dining area and kitchen. A bathroom is behind the kitchen; two bedrooms are behind the fireplace on the opposite wall.

With screens for most of its walls, the cabin feels like a large breezeway. All-weather canvas shades can be snapped down for privacy, insulation, and sun control. "This is about as close to nature as you can get," commented one judge. "It's a contemporary summer camp."

ARCHITECT: (512) 494-1201