This 600-square-foot retreat, designed for an Austin couple, is located deep within a 30,000-acre ranch in West Texas. The couple had seen Alchemy Architects’ other projects and were attracted to the simplicity of the firm's modular approach. Alchemy's weeHouse prototype consists of a basic rectangular unit that is assembled and customized off-site, shipped to a pre-prepared foundation, and installed into place. The house is tucked into a hillside and uses extensive floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor patio areas to immerse its residents into the landscape.
The house has two modules: a living space on the left and a utilities, laundry, and outdoor kitchen on the right.
The concrete plinth supports the planters and deck while concealing a foundation of concrete pylons. Both modules were transported to the site from a factory in Utah and installed with a crane.
The house rests just below the crest of a gently sloping hilltop and commands powerful views. Its transparency and small size aim to minimize its impact on the land.
While its exterior may look like weathering steel, the walls are actually fiber cement coated with oxidizing steel paint. This resource-saving measure means the protective rust is real but will not compromise the exterior.
Large canopies shade the retreat’s southern elevations, rendering the interior and ipe wood patio comfortable in the Texas heat.
The kitchen cabinets are custom-made from salvaged cypress.
The bedframe, also custom and seen here without a mattress, rests in the center of the living space and offers almost panoramic views.
The interior walls and floors are carbonized bamboo; this material consists of regular bamboo flooring treated with steam to create a darker and richer color.