Not all sites are created equal. Some provide the opportunity of majestic distant views while others do not. Some are easily built upon while others offer distinct challenges. Often the sites with the greatest potential also possess the greatest challenges for those who seek to build upon them. Such was the case for a San Antonio businessman who found an available lot in a built-out subdivision on Lake McQueeney near Seguin. The views from the lot were perfect for the lake house he wished to build there but the reason the lot had remained empty was because of its small size and location within the boundaries of a newly revised flood plain. Many potential owners had dismissed the lot as unbuildable.
Urbanist Design brought to the table several years’ worth of experience working in coastal conditions and was able to directly apply that knowledge to the unique problems created by this project. The strategy proposed building the house on stilts, which created several advantageous conditions that were able to be incorporated into the overall design. For example covered parking and a screened porch were able to be located on the ground level while the main living spaces were elevated twelve feet up off the ground, allowing for panoramic views of the adjoining lake.
The building’s footprint is fairly compact – only 20’ by 80’ – with ten large wood columns defining the expressed structure of the house. These columns also organize the house into four bays. The main living floor uses the central two bays as a large living and dining room space with a direct visual connection to the lake. The two side bays are occupied by the master bedroom and kitchen, respectively. A “party deck” extends out from the kitchen while simultaneously covering an existing boat slip below. Offsetting this large deck from the windows of the main living area ensured it did not interfere with the views from that interior space. The uppermost level contains a dedicated guest bedroom as well as a more flexible loft space. This loft acts a flexible bunk room so that the 3,200 square foot home can potentially accommodate up to twenty summer revelers attending particularly ambitious parties.
The house makes extensive use of recycled pine. This in conjunction with high-performance spray-foam insulation and a mechanical system that allows individual spaces to be independently heated and cooled so that the house can operate efficiently regardless of if two or twenty people occupy it. Durable exterior materials and a broad roof overhang also minimize the amount of regular maintenance required.
In working to achieve the client’s goals, Urbanist Design was able to turn potentially problematic aspects of the site into advantageous generators of good design elements. Completed in July of 2010, Casa Lago represents a simple and efficient vacation home that can accommodate a wide range of uses and guests.