This family ranch is located directly off the banks of West Sister Creek, a tributary to the Guadalupe River; sited three miles from the famed horse shoe bend of this river described by Frederick Law Olmsted as the prettiest place in Texas in his 1857 journal "Journey Through Texas".
The client - the matriarch of this five generation Texas family had a vision to repurpose the existing house structure before constructing any new structures. Growing up during the great depression had shaped her mentality of living without waste, so no material goods were to be discarded and the hard lessons learned laboring for decades in the oil industry were to be instilled in all her future family generations. From the agrarian attributes of self sufficiency by living off the land - to elevation of place in society through higher education in the arts and sciences, the composition of buildings are a string of pearls and wisdom that stretch from the organic garden to the floating "music box" sited near the flood prone banks of the cypress lined creek. Along this path, the architect was charged to create an expression of the regional environment that incorporated the tools and methods of the family's participation in the oil industry.
The design solution begins at the north end of the site with a promenade of Spartan, pole-barn, agrarian structures constructed with oil field pipe that bound the edge of the fenced organic garden. There an eco-skeleton, garden gateway shed, splits the fence line setting in motion the southerly axis turn of the compound of structures on their march toward the cypress lined creek banks. The renovated main house structure anchors the compound yard with new, locally quarried, limestone planks 5 feet long coursed in varied heights that recall oil field boring maps and local highway land cuts. The house perimeter is flanked with new generous 12 foot deep porches constructed of oil field pipe that perch on a limestone water table base foundation with each porch bay marked by deep steps providing additional seating during large family gatherings. Punctuated along the porch bays is an outdoor kitchen and screen porch that recalls simpler times and helps grounds the family closer to nature. Within the main house, a new concrete "root cellar" is accessed by a sinuous spiral stair that recalls oil rig boring bits that penetrate the earth strata. Floating reclaimed cypress shelves supported by cantilevered steel drill stem embedded in the concrete walls recall the earth strata theme.
A relocated repurposed bunkhouse continues the building compound trek southward and shares the same main house material palette and details as both of the outdoor room porch spaces "stitch a transparent linkage" that frames the heritage live oak compound yard
Culminating the promenade of structures is an apsidal "music box" structure that pays homage to the arts and sciences attributes of the family legacy. Located directly off the banks of the Creek, this floating structure was erected to serve as a sanctuary for both music and health. The program with-in the single volume space is two-fold, acting both as a yoga studi as well as a music room. The open plan and reclaimed sinker-cypress floor planks coupled with an array of specialty wall plates for yoga poses and stretches render this space ideal as a yoga and music studio. The corner windows flanking the lone steel column bath morning light upon the baby-grand piano bounded by the two cypress walls that define an intimate space for personal musical reflection. Perfect acoustics are achieved through the wooden plank walls and floor, which direct and amplify the performance that resonates along the cypress tree lined creek bank.
Sustainable design elements include: