Spyglass is a single family home perched on a cliff overlooking the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Originally built in the 1980s, the building consisted of two stacked floor plates, each with banks of doors opening out onto east facing decks spanning the entire width of the building. There were no windows on the north and south facing walls, and the west façade, along with the entry door, had circular acrylic windows. The client purchased the house with the intent to extensively remodel and modernize both levels.
The upper floor was reconfigured to create an open loft space with kitchen, dining, and office areas delineated by islands, partial height walls, and casework dividers. Expansive east facing glazing now provides ample daylight and frames a panoramic vista across the tree canopy of the creek below, to the downtown Austin skyline beyond. The bank of original doors with headers and transoms above were replaced by full height, large panel Fleetwood slider doors.
A new double height entry volume provides vertical relief from the continuous, uninterrupted ceiling plane and functions as a large light gathering device. Clerestory windows along the perimeter of all four walls integrate with exposed Douglas fir studs that support the roof and modulate the changing angle of sunlight throughout the day. An adaptation of balloon framing at the wall to ceiling connection creates a feeling of levity by allowing the wall framing to visibly slip up past the ceiling plane and dematerialize what would typically be a conventional moment.
Stairs to the lower floor are located in this entry volume. The entire lower floor, where all the bedroom spaces are located, was completely reconfigured to improve layout and access to natural light. The master bathroom was relocated next to an exterior courtyard to create a private connection to an outdoor garden.
Double height entry volume
View of downtown looking across Barton Creek watershed.