Edgeland House has been developed by Bercy Chen Studio in a rehabilitated brownfield site of Austin, Texas. The home was commissioned by a science fiction writer enthralled with 21st century human habitation in the urban frontiers of abandoned industrial zones. The design is inspired by the vernacular of the “pit house”, one of the oldest housing typologies in North America used by Native Americans through the ages. Typically sunken, the building takes advantage of the earth’s mass to maintain thermal comfort throughout the year.
The residential home’s relationship to the landscape both in terms of approach as well as building performance involves an insulating green roof and a seven‐foot excavation ‐ raising awareness about a diminishing natural landscape and its finite resources by creating a balance between the surrounding industrial zone and the natural river residing on opposite side of the site. Both visually and functionally, the residence touches on architecture as site‐specific installation art and as an extension of the landscape. The program is broken up into two separate pavilions, for the living and sleeping quarters, and requires direct contact with the outside elements to pass from one to the other.
The linear courtyard down the center allows fresh air to flow between the bluff and the river below. The courtyard is a theater for observing migrating humming birds, monarch butterflies, even ant colonies, heightening one’s awareness of nature in an urban setting.
The architects collaborated with the Lady Bird Wildflower Center to reintroduce over 40 native species of wildflowers and grass to preserve the local ecosystem.