Located in Austin’s historic Hyde Park in the company of 1920s-era bungalows, the Concrete Casita by Ravel Architecture is distinct with its contemporary, low-lying profile, yet feels at home with the neighborhood. Designs to become in-law’s quarters or serve as a versatile, indoor/outdoor space for an active Austin family, the 600-square-foot structure has a rugged makeup of board-formed concrete, rusted steel, and glass.
"The clients are actually friends with my family," says architect Alex Finnell. "They were interested in doing something on their property that was good for the in-laws when they came to visit, and very versatile."
The homeowners had few directives for the architects but were drawn to the simple, sustainable materials that wouldn’t create visual clutter.
"Concrete is long-lasting, and the rusted steel also has this patina to it that looks natural," says architect Devin Keyes. "From the alleyway, which is behind the Casita, it looks as if it’s been there for a long time."
It’s a purposefully stark, almost sculptural structure. The board-formed concrete has a unique texture that plays with light and shadow throughout the day, while the custom windows illuminate the entirety, making the small floor plan seem much larger than it actually is. Additionally, the home is insulated like "a concrete sandwich" for further thermal control.
And while the couple weren’t picky when it came to the design, as outdoor enthusiasts they knew they wanted plenty of room for their bicycles and climbing gear.
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"Two hundred square feet of it is a storage program," Finnell says. "They wanted to keep everything organized in a space that was tucked away."
Inside, the one-bedroom, one-bathroom guesthouse makes full use of its tiny interior. There’s a kitchenette, a living room, and an outdoor patio.
The main focal point is the white oak form in the center of the building, a space which holds the bathroom, kitchenette, and entertainment unit.
"You have to interact with it for every purpose," Finnell says. "It creates circulation within the home and further efficiency."
The team also helped the couple select an interiors color palette and furnishings, some of which they’d already owned, and others they purchased from a local showroom. The result is a sophisticated, serene space to welcome guests and afford the couple more flexibility.
Structural Engineer: GreenEarth Engineering
Cabinetry Design/Installation: John Kuvet