step into the houses of texas-based lake | flato through its monograph, 'respecting the land'

Nov 24, 2021

san antonio and austin-based practice lake | flato architects celebrates the publication of its monograph, LAKE | FLATO HOUSES: RESPECTING THE LAND. for over thirty years, the studio has shaped unique living environments, driven by the belief that architecture should be rooted in its particular place and respond in a meaningful way to its context, whether natural or built.

the newly completed monograph focuses on homes built between 2014 and 2020. it highlights the work’s diverse locations and landscapes along with the evolution of client aspirations and construction challenges that the team has overcome. lake | flato makes use of local materials and works together with the best regional craftsmen to introduce homes that are tactile and modern, environmentally responsible, and authentic yet artfully crafted.

the architects at lake | flato present this monograph with both photography and architectural drawings. to illustrate the firm’s approach to design, the book is organized into five sections: on land, on living, on building, on detailing, and on resources.

from the monograph’s foreword, edward mazria writes: ‘when architecture firms like lake | flato continually produce inspiring, contextual, and extraordinary residential buildings that are integrated with the earth’s systems, its landscapes, renewable energy and resources — it sends a message and influences generations of architects.’

lake | flato designs its courtyard house in el paso, texas to respond to the context’s formidable and diverse topographical personality. the courtyard house is sited next to the client’s existing home. this new addition was envisioned as an entertaining and living space. with the franklin mountains as the backdrop and a suburban neighborhood as the immediate context, a large-scale addition was appropriate to the vast setting.

the courtyard house features landscapes by ten eyck landscape architects and interiors by pamela dailey. the project organizes a pool, orchard, and outdoor kitchen, while 8-foot overhangs shading expanses of glass ensure a welcoming vibe. inside, two offices, a home gym, a spa and a garage for a car collection make a meaningful destination.

courtyard house, el paso, texas, 2020 | image © casey dunn

nestled within a large creek bend, a secluded, pastoral landscape provides a perfect site for a private family retreat. tucked between the tall cypress trees along the creek and the rocky hillside, the house structures are pushed to the edges and spaced apart, maintaining the experience of discovering a hidden clearing. similar to a camp experience, one travels outdoors to get from each bedroom structure to the shared living spaces. with a 12.8 kw solar array on the carport roof and two tesla batteries, the house can sustain itself through power outages and offset its energy use.

the same cypress wood siding is used on the interiors and exteriors and will naturally weather outside. local lueders limestone and board-formed concrete anchor the main fireplace and the buildings partially buried in the hillside. the material palette is intentionally limited to wood, stone and concrete with metal connectors as needed. the wood frame structure remains exposed and is only infilled with wood sided walls and glass for shelter. the conditioned square footage was kept tight and is just a little over half the amount of the outdoor space.

the buildings float mostly above grade, allowing for the occasional floodwaters to pass through. the upper half of the site provides pasture and a small open-air barn for two horses. a stone ha-ha keeps the horses from wandering onto the house site, but still within full view from the house. the pinnacle outdoor room is the open corner between the two shared spaces, perched just above the creek, looking downstream through the cypress trunks – the best place to catch a cool texas breeze.

verde creek ranch, comfort, texas, courtesy of lake | flato

inspired by their interest in sustainable ranching practices, wildlife preservation and stream restoration, the clients sought to create a home that embraced a modern interpretation of a homestead and responded to the context of its place. the new dwelling connects to the site’s existing ranch infrastructure along the south fork of the shoshone river while maintaining privacy and embracing the wild parts of their ranch.

a stone volume sits on the edge of the wild, while a barn opposite faces the ranch, serving as a threshold to the compound. these two forms are connected by a sod roofed building, all surrounding a small central courtyard.

designed to evoke the atmosphere of a camp, the house was crafted to accommodate large gatherings while encouraging group interaction. the program is organized into smaller buildings to avoid over-scaled spaces. carefully placed windows and dormers ensured stunning views of the surrounding valley. a stone, eat-in kitchen anchored by two hearths is the touchstone of the home, reiterating the ranch operation’s emphasis on food, health and community.

ishawooa mesa ranch, wyoming | images © joe fletcher

monograph info:

title: respecting the land

architecture: lake | flato

publisher: rizzoli new york

introduction and chapters: lake|flato foreword: edward mazria project descriptions: helen thompson edited: oscar riera ojeda