Parallelogram on the Water

A unique home overlooking views of Lake Travis is eye-catching inside and out.

“One of our passions is exploring different geometries within a modern context,” says architect Winn Wittman. “We often take a more sculptural approach.” By liberating the building from blocky right angles, Wittman and team accomplished their philosophy that a “home should not have a front, back or side, and it should be like a piece of sculpture in the landscape that can be appreciated at any angle.”

  As it turned out, this parallelogram shape served multiple purposes beyond aesthetics. Wittman needed to shape the house in such a way to avoid conflicting with a considerable conservation easement. “It’s often-times very challenging to create usable living spaces within oddly-shaped acute angles,” says Wittman. The team accomplished this feat by creating a large double height living room with floor-to-ceiling glass, separating the wings of the home — and the two cohabitating families — while also providing a common area to relax and entertain in the natural light. 3D modeling software was used to simulate the angles of the sun throughout the seasons, ensuring the placement of the windows wouldn’t heat the room to stifling levels. The parallelogram motif was even carried to the shape of the pool and hot tub.

“The view of the lake was a very important aspect in the design of the home,” says Wittman, adding, “Midway through construction we decided to add a deck on the secondary level.” This change in elevation brought a new perspective and, as the home backs up to a greenbelt, a sense of privacy was preserved by orienting sightlines front-to-back and away from other homes on the flanks of the property. “Orienting the garage perpendicular to the road creates a private motorport area,” says Wittman, one that, in addition to adding a luxurious feel on approach, “obscures the views of the neighbor’s home.”

For Wittman, the clients exemplify the kind of people his team enjoy working with “because they primarily think about what they want versus exclusively in terms of resale.” This personal and emotional investment in the project allowed for greater creative freedom and bold decisions. “The owner pushed us to incorporate a variety of textures, colors and materials,” recalls Whitman. “We are always willing to work with our clients to perfectly reflect their personality and preferences.” To Wittman, this project was “surprisingly interesting and refreshing,” as “so many interiors can be simplified to the point of being boring.” But here, the “interior finishes are as angular and assertive as the exterior shapes.”

This attention to detail and eclectic flexibility continued through the home’s secondary spaces (pantries, laundry rooms, bathrooms, etc.) to avoid any part becoming “purely utilitarian.” This project taught Wittman that such “spaces could become hidden surprises that can delight.” He remarks on the fact that “there’s thought being put into the materiality and fixtures of these secondary spaces,” but a delicate and collaborative touch needs to be employed so “it doesn’t feel schizophrenic.” The team “took some risks and embraced the idea of variety rather than conformity,” using marbles and polished metals in the bathrooms and an array of striking faucets throughout the various rooms that required them.

Wittman is particularly proud of the kitchen, with its “white high gloss cabinet material paired with dark rich wood grain.” There’s an interesting clash of colors, the “textured stone wall with polished stainless steel inserts... provide a nice contrast to the slick white cabinetry.” Another feature: strip windows under the cabinetry at counter top level let in a sliver of natural light without exposing the room with a direct line of sight to the neighbors.

“Some things have a purpose in one’s life beyond a mere investment in real estate,” says Wittman, and there is no more rewarding a challenge than creating a home that satisfies a client personally, financially and philosophically. Every finish and material, ranging from Egyptian stone to stained wood tiles from Poland, offered up a blank but bright canvas for custom artwork and furniture hand-picked by the owner to fit the space. With this eye-catching parallelogram, Wittman and team designed something truly in a class of its own.


Winn Wittman Architecture

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