Like a partially covered bridge the truss-framed main living area unites inside and outside. The floor is made of Trex decking. Sleeping bathing and cooking spaces are at the side.
Paul Bardagjy

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

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