Architecture and urban planning firm Bercy Chen Studio designed the Edgeland House in Austin, Texas in a very interesting way. The house that appears to be hidden and split apart is a contemporary re-interpretation of an old Native American Pit House – a residence typically sunken and takes advantage of the earth’s mass to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the year.
Description by Bercy Chen Studio:
Edgeland House is located on a rehabilitated brownfield site and is a modern re‐interpretation of one of the oldest housing typologies in North America, the Native American Pit House. The Pit House, typically sunken, takes advantage of the earth’s mass to maintain thermal comfort throughout the year. Like this timeless dwelling, Edgeland House’s relationship to the landscape both in terms of approach as well as building performance involves an insulative green roof and a 7‐foot excavation‐ gaining benefits from the earth’s mass to help it stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Such an architectural setting presents an opportunity for maximum energy efficiency when combined with high performance systems such as the integrated hydronic HVAC system. The mechanical system combines: hydronic heating and a green roof for maximum energy efficiency.
Edgeland House is about healing the land and ameliorating the scars of the site’s industrial past. The project raises 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 the opposite side of the site.
Both visually and functionally, Edgeland House 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. This project sets new standards for sustainability while providing great aesthetic qualities through its small footprint and integrated mechanical features.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center collaborated to reintroduce over 40 native species of plants and wildflowers to the Edgeland House green roof and site, serving to help protect the local ecosystem.