A Surprise House Lakeside Residence    |   Horseshoe Bay, Texas   |   4,300 SF

For many families today, quality time together is at a premium. The clients valued their time together and wanted to preserve it by creating a place that would facilitate family connection even as their children became older and more independent. The family didn’t have preconceptions for the aesthetic of their vacation home. But they knew one thing: they wanted something completely different from the home they lived in every day. For them, the house on Lake LBJ was about rest, recreation, and bonding. And so it became Overland’s task was to create a physical home that embodied the experiential qualities the family desired.

Beauty follows function
The house – its foundation a bulwark of slab concrete – rises like a seawall out of the water. It stretches along the brink of the lake, doting on its surroundings: the water, the granite outcropping across the lake and a pair of hills beyond. The house itself mimics this vista.
Metropolitan Home Magazine Nov/Dec 2003
Overland spent time listening to the client imagine how they would use their house. As they talked through a series of activities, design features emerged that would shape and detail the design. An ice maker in the room where they would gather for drinks. A straight run from the driveway to the water, so that kids could hit the ground and go straight for the fun. Moments of solitude. Opportunities for spontaneous togetherness.

What emerged was a “surprise house,” entirely different from the suburban-style homes surrounding it. Instead of a sprawling backyard leading to the water, the structures appear to be emerging from the water, almost like a series of boats. Instead of a grand façade, the house is nearly hidden behind a modest wall, symbolically protecting the special community behind it against the intrusion of stress and distraction.

To accommodate family activity, individual solitude, and relational intimacy over time, Overland created a compound of buildings connected by a loggia. Pavilions and courtyards reinforce the residence’s orientation to the water.

Building as closely as they did to the water presented design hurdles of its own. The team had to create a check dam to allow them to pour the foundation, and soon discovered that the water table had been incorrectly surveyed. The clients continued to be flexible and practical as Overland proposed a creative solution to flooded ductwork, tucking them into cabinets to avoid a spiral duct system.

Using raw materials and simple structures kept the cost low and enhanced the organic sensibility of the house. Like a family, the house became what it would be, with inherent imperfections in the materials only enhancing texture and adding an aesthetic complexity to the spaces. The home has become a treasured place in their family and an indelible part of their memories and lives.

Awards
  • TSA Design Award 2011
  • Custom Home Grand Prize Design Award 2003
  • Masonry Construction Honorable Mention Best Residential Building 2003
  • TSA Honor Award 2002
  • AIA San Antonio Design Honor Award 2001
  • Builder’s Choice Design & Planning Award 2001
  • Residential Architect Honor Award 2001
  • The Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award 2001
Publications
  • Architectural Record, “House of the Month,” November 2004
  • Metropolitan Home, “Shore Thing,” November/December 2003
  • Texas Architect, “Lakeside Residence,” September 2002