Cliff Dwelling by Specht Architects. Austin, Texas
Suspended on a narrow limestone ridge halfway down a cliff overlooking Lake Austin, this home builds upon the frame of an existing 1970s-era structure. The renovation re-works the processional sequence into and through the house making it habitable for an elderly couple, enhancing engagement with the dramatic site, and incorporating elements that have personal importance to the owners.
The original entry was via a dangerous exterior ramp that ran from street level down to a front door, 25’ below. One now enters via a light-filled pavilion that overlooks the lake and opens onto a large rooftop herb garden. A sequence of stairs, supplemented by an elevator, descends through the three levels of the house, revealing views of both the lake and the limestone cliff.
Materials incorporated into the house include flooring that the owners salvaged and saved, furniture made from a collection of industrial parts, and stone from a quarry they frequented during vacations.