On a hillside just south of Lady Bird Lake in Austin Texas, the Rutherford Residence reaches skyward to capture views of downtown. The steep topography of the site presented both a challenge and an opportunity. The design process focused on addressing the dual nature of the site– intimate, lush and steep toward the back, open and urban at the front– allowing for a variety of views and experiences as one moves toward and through the home.

Project Name: Rutherford Residence
Studio Name: Merzbau Design Collective
Location: Austin, United States
Photography: Brian Mihealsick
Project size: 2600 ft2
Site size: 8830 ft2
Completion date: 2017
Building levels: 3

Rutherford Residence by Merzbau Design Collective - Sheet1
Fireplace ©Brian Mihealsick

The exterior entry stair ascends a natural ridge to the elevated front porch, sheltered by the cantilevered dining room and third floor patio above. This second level has a private feel to it, accentuated by a screened porch that extends the living space toward a pool and landscaped hillside beyond.

Rutherford Residence by Merzbau Design Collective - Sheet2
Kitchen ©Brian Mihealsick

A steel-framed stair rises through the interior, filtering light from large windows on the west facade, as the experience of the home shifts toward its urban location and panoramic views of downtown. The top floor living area opens onto a large covered patio facing Lady Bird Lake, while the adjacent dining room captures views through a box window.

Rutherford Residence by Merzbau Design Collective - Sheet3
Living Room ©Brian Mihealsick

Down the hall, the master suite anchors the back of the house and takes on a treehouse feel, with a balcony overlooking the backyard and pool. By embracing the topography of the site and taking advantage of the different experiences it provides, the Rutherford Residence is a “city house” that feels like a vacation home.


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