Austin Architecture on the Lake

Houses on Lake Travis are very unique buildings, many of which are designed individually by architectural firms specifically for the plot of land on which they sit. This not only keeps the communities visually arresting and correlating to a modern aesthetic, but also allows the builders to utilize resources that are native to the Austin area so the houses fit into their surroundings. With these architectural firms exclusive designs visitors to the homes can also see the influence of past architecture on the homes’ design.

Through both material resource and visual design, architects can create a strong tie between house and land. Limestone is a common building material in central Texas. It is an abundant resource and by utilizing this material, many of the Lake Travis homes have a strong connection to the land on which they were built. Countless houses in the area, such as the Lake Travis Retreat by Dick Clark Architecture, also visually mimic the landscape of central Texas to create a harmonious relationship with the natural setting. The water features at the Lake Travis Retreat respond directly to the water flowing in the area and the large overhangs answer to the Texas climate.

Many of the houses on Lake Travis have a modern architectural style that is an extension of the architecture begun by the Modernists back in the early to mid 1900’s. One of the first widely recognized works of modern architecture is the Villa Savoye in Poissy, France that was built around 1930. This home was designed in the International style by Le Corbusier, who applied his five points of architecture to the house. One principle of this is utilizing long horizontal windows, which can be seen distilled down throughout the years in the large horizontal windows on a multitude of the houses around Lake Travis. The lofty removal of curtain walls to expose the structure of Villa Savoye and expose the lack of need for massive load bearing walls is a concept that can be seen in the open floor plans and layouts of various homes around the lake. These open plans allow the inhabitants space to move around uninhibited, a concept that also dates back to the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Van der Rohe designed the Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois around 1950. The Farnsworth House has very minimal framework, leaving the entire box interior open. This was a shift in design that was enabled by advances in technology that eliminated the need for as many load bearing walls. Buildings no longer had to be diced up into small rooms, which is a practice that has continued on into contemporary architectural plans. The use of cantilevered projections and flat roofs seen around Lake Austin hearken back to the International style and Modernist architecture. While many of these new houses’ architects are not prescribing to the philosophy put forth by early Modernists such as Corbusier and van der Rohe, they have clearly been visually influenced by the forefathers of modern architecture.

Looking around Lake Travis can be fun for architecture-loving folk to see these contemporary houses utilizing Modernist techniques that have been translated across the years while also being incorporated into the landscape. It is possible to visit to see Lake Travis homes or Lago Vista homes.