Modern Texas Prefab on Cover of Builder
Hill Country Contemporary Originated in the Factory
“When designing a custom home, the details are paramount. And it’s the details—such as an exterior clad in locally-foraged charred Shou-Sugi-Ban cypress, and utilitarian fixtures outfitted with unique, industrial hardware—that make this lakeside residence designed by Boston-based Aamodt / Plumb Architects undeniably custom. What isn’t as obvious is that the 6,000-square-foot house also happens to be prefabricated.
A New Approach
With roots in Cambridge, Mass., and a branch in Austin, Aamodt / Plumb was commissioned to design and construct the New York–based clients’ home-away-from-home in a mere 12 months. A custom home of this scale usually demands two to three years, so partners Mette Aamodt and Andrew Plumb looked to other industries in search of tactics they could “borrow” that would allow them to accelerate the process.
Their solution came from information technology in the form of parallel processing, which divides a task between multiple processors to run a program faster—much like the panelized, prefabricated building system that ultimately allowed the firm to frame the foundation and envelope of this house in just two weeks.
In collaboration with Bensonwood, a company that specializes in sustainable timber, as well as local high-performance builder Matt Risinger, Aamodt / Plumb built an airtight, Passive House–compliant envelope in the time it would have taken to complete the foundation work on a traditionally-constructed house. While Risinger prepared the site and poured the concrete, Bensonwood manufactured and shipped the timber frame and panelized sections from their factory in New Hampshire.
“Traditional custom building is a sequential process,” Aamodt says. “We were interested in prefab because it could allow us to perform some of those processes in parallel.”
The interior of the house is simply finished with wood floors, white walls, and exposed wood beams. A relatively open plan allows the owners flexibility in how they use the space.
Thoughtfully sited to preserve the site’s existing oak trees, the structure combines a rustic, ranch-style vernacular with modern details. Two individual volumes—in contrasting shades and heights—connect at a glass-paneled, light-filled mudroom and entrance foyer. Offset by a white steel roof, the charred wood and white stucco exterior gives way to modern interiors that feature reclaimed timber, local limestone, and raw steel. Full-length windows meet mesquite flooring to invite sunlight deep into the home and provide expansive views.
“We wanted the interiors to be very simple—white walls and white ceilings. We used the reclaimed wood in very specific instances to add richness and texture,” Aamodt says.
Hill Country-inspired décor hand-picked by New York interior designer Bella Mancini finishes the look, creating an embodiment of the downtown Austin charm that’s just beyond the front door.”