The 2x12th street residence is a successful speculative project in east Austin that provided buyers an alternative to a saturated formulaic real estate market. Minguell-McQuary was able to play a lead role in the development, including finding potential lots for development and studying lot subdivision and layout options. As a result this project redefines the typical spec house and provides new options for a marketable, profitable product.
This is one of three residences located on subdivided small lots with limited driveway access due to cottage home zoning and the adjacent intersection. This resulted in a shared driveway between them and reduced paving area.
In the tradition of 2 by lumber construction, off-the-shelf materials, this house rethinks what a modest dollar-per-square-foot urban modern bungalow could be. Rather than rely on the prescriptive, nostalgic postcard approach that the current real estate market formulas dictate, where porches get flattened and gables get duplicated; the designers looked for the DNA or idea generators that created houses in early twentieth century neighborhoods. They reevaluated the porch, gable, overhang, window and door in a contemporary light.
Through the use of 2 by lumber wall trusses, accounting for code-required wall bracing, the structure allows large expanses of natural light, an open plan and interlaced double height spaces throughout the residence without the need of structural steel.
Much attention was given to proportion and scale of elements in order to achieve a depth of field that comforts the experience of moving through the project. For example, over the kitchen counter a ¼” flat plate and 3/8” steel rod built-in bar area serves as a delicate screen and space definer as you enter the residence.
The stair, built as a bridge between two separate foundation slabs, provides a threshold both in plan and elevation, dividing public from private areas, accommodating changes in topography, surface runoff and defining spaces. Deep overhangs shade openings and protect the whitewashed cedar siding, while a metal snap lock system covers the roof and the exposed walls.
Exterior curtains allow for privacy and light control for a cedar deck and trellis that hovers over 12th street. This deck and trellis acts as a threshold between the busy public street and the private residence, thus mitigating the “glass house effect”. The deck follows the tradition of the porch and realizes the need for an exterior room to be a connection to the local environment, allowing architecture to not only provide shelter from the weather but also to become a great way to experience it.
The project maximizes the small lot by orienting the back of the building to the side setback and omitting the “must have” garage, allowing for a large open yard to host a carport, storage building and a singular entry.
Steel planters organize spaces throughout the landscape by creating terraces, steps, walking pads and controlling water runoff. Local plant species were selected to create a warm but low maintenance xeriscape. Between energy efficient materials and sustainable architectural gestures: double pane low-e-glazing with thermal breaks, on-demand water heater, spray-in insulation, low-emissions paint, large overhangs and ample natural lighting, this residence sits responsibly on the land.