Edgeland House is the result of collaboration between Wildflower Center environmental designers and architecture and urban planning firm Bercy Chen Studio LP. Based loosely on the design of early Native American pit houses, this private residence along Austin’s Colorado River is not only visually stunning but environmentally sound.
The site was previously a brownfield with a derelict oil pipeline traversing it. Now — after soil restoration efforts, removal of invasive species and introduction of a native plant palette — it’s a thriving urban ecosystem topped with a 2,300-square-foot green roof.
The green roof utilizes SkySystem™, a growing medium developed by Center researchers specifically for green roofs in hot climates, and the plant assemblage is an herbaceous prairie and wildflower mix that Wildflower Center Environmental Designer John Hart Asher says “is still doing great” four years after planting. “It’s so resilient,” he adds.
The site as a whole will help to restore Central Texas’ quickly diminishing blackland prairie, one of the most endangered habitats in North America. Asher also notes the project’s influence on proliferating the implementation of extensive (or shallow-depth) hot-climate green roofs on a large scale: “Edgeland really started it,” he says.
Daniel Loe, an architect with Bercy Chen, notes the home’s ability to “mitigate the purely man-made” with the natural environment. “Walking the site,” he says, “one gets the sense that the present ecosystem would exist exactly as-is if the house didn’t exist.” Chris Brown, the writer and lawyer who lives at Edgeland House, says he sees an “immense potential for thinking of the city as ecology.” His dwelling certainly realizes that vision.
It’s a realization that hasn’t gone unnoticed. Edgeland House has been featured in Dwell and Texas Architect magazines and has won several awards, including Architizer’s A+ Jury and Popular Choice Awards, the 2016 Design Award of Excellence from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and the Texas Society of Architects 2016 Design Award. Edgeland House will also be featured in “Elemental Living: Contemporary Houses in Nature,” out November 2016 from Phaidon.
“A Home Fit for a Science Fiction Writer” – Dwell
“Embracing the Edge” – Texas Architecture
Audio: “Austin Architects, Ecologists Create Site-Sensitive Edgeland House” – KUT News