Western residential design fascinates me. Well atleast, what I tend to come across every now and then, but, the thing that does intrigue me is their penchant for low density design. Maybe its a culture thing, but, I see quite a few residences of appreciable size with just 1 bedroom and as such I’m always wondering ‘why?’ and ‘how?’. I guess I’m accustomed to our large African families and the need for more than 1 room once you cross the 50 sqm mark, but, nonetheless the trend still creates some very lovely residences.
One of such, is the Frick Residence in Austin, Texas, USA designed by KRBD. Its a one storey, one bedroom home complete with a home studio for the artist owner. Its form is simple and rectilinear making with a skeletal steel structure covering about 150 sqm. An obtuse splice or chamfer characterizes the wall adjacent to the walkway entry that runs parallel to a corten steel planter.
Large concrete pavers atop the landscape lead up to the large glass front door of this single occupancy home. One thing I like about the pavers is the fact that landscape surrounds them, almost engulfing them, thus creating a more sustainable landscape that has a lighter footprint upon the site, as opposed to the process of our typical interlocking paving that literally requiring the scraping of the earth (the spreading of an impervious nylon sheet over the scraped surface) and then the placing of the concrete pavers. Tedious, No? Alas, I digress. A similar treatment of surrounded hardscaping is offered to the driveway with raised concrete strips leading up to a partially covered carport, which is provided by a cantilevered steel frame roof.
On entry we’re greeted by a large foyer that serves as a kind of gallery space, showcasing the owner’s art, literature and rug collection.
At the entry end of this gallery is the living area comprising, the Sitting, Dining and Kitchen, all opening up to the pool area, shaded by cantilevered steel fins. The other end of the gallery is where we find a spacious home office.
Nestled between these two extremes is the Master Suite of the home, which offers a sizeable space, walk-in wardrobe and large bathroom. In fairness, the aforementioned home office could double as a second bedroom served by a second bathroom accessed from the gallery, thus, making building more flexible than I might have led one to believe. But the focus is largely on one room for the home, so I’m not too far off. The Master Bedroom, is characterized by the same shelving present in the gallery space along with more beautiful art on the walls and a long clerestory window that keeps the space largely private but bright and airy.
The Second ‘Wing’ of the home serves as the owners Art Studio. A large open space that caters to a plethora of creative activities. Few windows feature within the space with the responsibility of daylighting resting on the 2 skylights that do a ‘bang-up’ job of keeping the creative space bright. Multiple tasks can go on simultaneously within the studio making it supremely functional for the Artist Owner.
With an interior that refuses to be placed in a ‘box’ of definition, and an expressive and dynamic textured exterior, the Frick Residence is a fine piece of simple residential architecture that does what its supposed to do. Its not pretentious or overtly artsy, neither is its geometry forced to perform mind boggling gymnastics, but rather, clean, bold lines and deliberate materials characterize this single room home (yeah! there I go again) as expressive and elegant with loads of art and loads of style, plus theres a pool. A pool’s always good.