Foothill Residence

presented by Bercy Chen Studio

Bercy Chen Studio 2019 Austin Modern Home Tour
Open Envelope Studio 2020 Austin Modern Home Tour

Architect: Calvin Chen, Bercy Chen Studio 
Builder: Bercy Chen Studio
Landscape: Open Envelope Studio
Photography: Andrea Calo
Landscape Images: Open Envelope Studio

About the Home:
At Foothill Residence, a renovation and addition of a mid-century modern home in Austin, Texas, the elements of architecture, nature, and light are used to effectively create a sense of calm and comfort for its inhabitants. The home was originally built in 1953 and won an award of merit from the Texas Architect’s Association for the project the same year. An open concept public wing that maximized communal space and a modestly sized private wing delineated the home’s modern plan.

Bercy Chen Studio’s addition and renovation builds on the L-shaped plan to accommodate for the home’s present-day owners. As was the original home’s intent, the updated MCM provides its inhabitants with a connection to the outdoors from every space in the house. Nature is the primary element that defines new boundaries, establishing the volumes for the office, master wing, and children’s bedrooms. As it carves out new program, built and natural elements become transposed. Nature acts as a screen that softens and filters, creating subtle layers of privacy and a feeling of ease. The wooded site provides for intimate views and creates dappled sunlight that floods the house, softening hard surfaces and helping to tie together spaces of different eras. At the new living room and master bedroom wings, both sited around a mature oak tree, floor to ceiling height glazing open the house to the tree and yard beyond. From the office, one can see in succession, a courtyard, the hallway to the children’s rooms, another courtyard, and the kitchen.

About the Landscape:
Open Envelope Studio was brought on to the project midway through the remodel of the home by Bercy Chen Architects.  The primary goal of the project was to create comfortable connections between the home and the various functions in the landscape.

Many designs are based on a very simple challenge: connecting one point in the landscape to an exit point on the home. One of the most interesting aspects of the Foothill Terrace design is that every egress point is at a different elevation. The strategy was to utilize multiple small terraces woven together by clearly defined paths to connect the differing elevations.

The front yard originally shared its entry path with the driveway. A new entry was introduced that facilitated a clear connection from street to front door. A long stone wall now reaches from the home’s edge to the street inviting visitors to move into the deep, shaded lot. Halfway to the front door, a square landing serves as a node allowing the visitor to continue to the house or divert to the owners’ home office.

The back of the home has three exit points. The two doors on the public side of the house share a small ipe hardwood deck that spills out onto the pool area. The pool is surround by concrete decking that is rhythmically subdivided by steel angle. The pool is flanked on two sides by a pair of turf grass terraces that serve as play and lounge spaces. A rhythmic concrete path continues up the site towards the master bedroom. The walkway slips under a mature oak tree and straddled by a more private lounge space that has the vantage point to overlook the site.