Un.Box Studio creates compact waterfront cottage in Austin woods

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Lake Austin House by Un.Box studio

Un.Box Studio creates compact waterfront cottage in Austin woods

American firm Un.Box Studio has used low-maintenance materials to create a simple, lakeside cabin in Texas surrounded by cypress trees and a verdant lawn.

Located a few miles outside of downtown Austin, the cottage sits on a heavily wooded site that is a mere 100 feet (30 metres) wide. The property, nicknamed the Narrows, has been owned by the same family since the 1970s, but was never developed.

Lake Austin House by Un.Box studio

The clients set out to create a small retreat where they could unwind during retirement. They also wanted a space where they could entertain their children, grandchildren and extended family, as well as host pilates classes.

"The owners insisted on a simple, humble, yet unique cabin to host their family gatherings and quiet weekend retreats," said Un.Box Studio, a firm based in Austin.

Lake Austin House by Un.Box studio

They requested a building that was "married to the land". In response, the architects chose natural materials that would require little maintenance over the coming year. "Our material palette consisted of ipe wood, steel, glass and concrete," the architects said.

The cabin, called Cousin Cabana, consists of a flat-roofed box set atop a concrete plinth. The exterior walls are wrapped in an ipe screen that "allows the walls to breath naturally".

Lake Austin House by Un.Box studio

Floor-to-ceiling glass looks over a wooden deck and provides uninterrupted views of the lake. A canopy helps shade the glazed wall.

Fronting the dwelling is a low-slung planter filled with fresh herbs and native plants. Made of board-formed concrete, the planter is intended to help frame views of the water.

Lake Austin House by Un.Box studio

"Wildlife visitors, such as deer and coyote, try to steal the spotlight within this framed view by inhabiting the wooded lawn area," the team said.

Encompassing 480 square feet (45 square metres), the simple cabin contains an open-plan kitchen, living room and dining area, along with a bathroom. Two sleeper sofas accommodate those wanting to stay overnight.

Interior finishes include sealed concrete flooring, Ikea cabinetry and a Douglas fir ceiling.

Lake Austin House by Un.Box studio

A large storage space – concealed behind a barn-style door – occupies one side of the building and houses bikes, wakeboards and other recreational equipment.

Other projects in Austin include a rectilinear home by Matt Fajkus that embraces a rolling landscape and a spacious dwelling by Lake Flato that has a slender lap pool and a boardwalk leading to a lake.

Photography is by Alexander Stross Photography.

Project credits:

Building designer: Un.Box Studio
General contractor: True Build
Interior design: Schoening Interior Design
Landscape design: Tait Moring & Associates Landscape Architects
Structural engineer: JM Structural Engineering

More images and plans

Floor plan of Lake Austin House by Un.Box Studio
Lake Austin House by Un.Box studio
Lake Austin House by Un.Box studio