U.S. Building of the Week

Edgecliff Residence

Miró Rivera Architects
24. februari 2020
Photo: Ibai Rigby © Miró Rivera Architects

The appearance of the Edgecliff Residence is dictated by its site: a filtered facade faces the street, while expanses of glass at the rear of the house open to a vista of trees and a nearby lake. Miró Rivera Architects answered a few questions about the house in Austin, Texas’s Travis Heights neighborhood.

Project: Edgecliff Residence, 2019
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Client: Withheld
Architect: Miró Rivera Architects
  • Design Principal: Juan Miró, FAIA & Miguel Rivera, FAIA
  • Project Architect: Matthew Sturich, RA
  • Project Team: Nick Steshyn
Structural Engineer: Smith Structural Engineers
Landscape Architect: Coleman & Associates
Lighting Designer: Studio Lumina
Interior Designer: Revamp
Contractor: Stuart Home Corporation
Site Area: 0.33 acres
Building Area: 5,250 sf
Photo: Ibai Rigby © Miró Rivera Architects
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?

We gained the clients' attention through word-of-mouth, and several years passed between when they first approached us and our work on the design really took off. The couple lived in a two-story house neighboring the site, but it was a more traditional design with small windows and little connection to either the landscape or the views beyond. The clients' priorities were to have a contemporary home that provided space to host guests on the weekends, incorporated open public spaces for entertainment, took advantage of the views of downtown Austin across the lake, and provided privacy from the street.

Photo: Ibai Rigby © Miró Rivera Architects
Please provide an overview of the project.

Taking advantage of its unique site in Austin’s eclectic Travis Heights neighborhood on the southern shores of Lady Bird Lake, the Edgecliff Residence is a play on contrasts: light and shadow, open and closed, organic and orthogonal. The lower level contains an open-air carport, foyer, and two guest rooms. The main level houses the kitchen, dining, and living spaces connected by an outdoor terrace. The upper level includes the master suite as well as a private study and media room. Doors from the master bath and study open onto another, smaller terrace that offers sweeping views of downtown.

Photo: Ibai Rigby © Miró Rivera Architects
What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?

The open floor plan highlights the dichotomy between the two halves of the site: ribbon windows screen the view of the street opposite picture windows that frame the treetops and lake. In contrast to the street façade with its metal screen, the rear of the house opens up to the natural landscape and views of downtown Austin via large windows and cantilevered terraces. Below, the terrain falls away steeply to a public hike-and-bike trail before meeting the shores of Lady Bird Lake, itself a segment of the Colorado River that winds across the state of Texas.

Photo: Ibai Rigby © Miró Rivera Architects
How does the design respond to the unique qualities of the site?

Like the houses around it, the dwelling occupies a small lot on a quiet residential street. The design responds to its narrow site with an unusual, trapezoidal floor plan that is essentially one bay deep. The trapezoidal floor plan responds directly to the constraints of the long, narrow site — one side parallels the street while the other runs adjacent to the site’s natural contours. The residence is divided into three levels in order to maximize views, with guest quarters at ground level, living spaces on the second floor, and the master suite at the highest level.

Photo: Ibai Rigby © Miró Rivera Architects
How did the project change between the initial design stage and the completion of the building?

The overall design changed very little; in fact, the initial plans for the bottom two levels are almost identical to what was built. The third floor changed the most; in the original scheme the master suite occupied only the eastern half of the third floor, and the western half was a large rooftop terrace with a deck and green roof. The screen on the south side and the large windows on the north side were part of the design from the start.

Photo: Ibai Rigby © Miró Rivera Architects
What products or materials have contributed to the success of the completed building?

The Edgecliff Residence is characterized by a rainscreen made of galvanized electrical conduit—an inventive, low-cost solution that addresses several practical needs. Made up of 84 shop-fabricated panels, the majority of which follow a modular width of 3’-6”, the pipe screen provides shade and privacy while filtering and diffusing sunlight. Beyond fulfilling these practical roles, the rainscreen is an artistic element that playfully reflects its particular setting. Throughout the day, the volume enclosed by the screen is alternately camouflaged and highlighted as the reflective metal responds to changes in the sun and sky. On a clear day, the shimmering screen provides a stark contrast to blue sky. But in the soft light of sunrise and sunset, the screen appears to dissolve.

Email interview conducted by John Hill.

Photo: Ibai Rigby © Miró Rivera Architects
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Drawing: Miró Rivera Architects
Drawing: Miró Rivera Architects
Drawing: Miró Rivera Architects
Drawing: Miró Rivera Architects
Drawing: Miró Rivera Architects

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