Aside from the fact that this live-work studio exists in the midst of Houston’s sprawl, a couple things are noteworthy: Even the architects, of Intexure Architects, really inhabit the project, and four of the residential jobs overlook it, making this portion of Houston’s Inner Loop that an Intexure compound of types. The four houses, which are charged as Southmoor Terrace, are LEED certified and are at exactly the same modernist vein as the live-work studio. These include the Tallichet residence the Bhutani residence and also the Waldrum residence. This article concentrates on the live-work studio, because it offers a different typology because of its context.
in a Glance
Who lives here: Rame and Russell Hruska
Location: Houston, Texas
Size: 3,000 square feet
That is intriguing: Adjacent houses are part of Museum Park Modern, a growth also by Intexure Architects.
The building’s long facade faces an internal court with parking, a requirement not only for Houston but also for owning a company in the construction. The garage is visible on the right; this may be the farthest from the street, but it helps to create more agreeable street frontages (without hulking garage doors) and sets a precedent for another residences.
The architects described it to me “We had been required by code to have a garage to satisfy our parking requirements — we’ve got a company occupancy stairs and residential occupancy over — but we really don’t park at the garage. Instead we use it as a woodshop/model-making zone and staging for our building jobs.” Further, “it’s two garage doors in 90 degrees on adjoining walls, which it also can be opened as a covered area for outside events, which we want to have in the gravel area when we transfer away the cars — parking by day and collecting space during nonwork hours.”
To the left of the garage is the stair tower, and outside that the vast majority of the live-work spaces. This stair tower is particularly significant, as the architects suggest: “As a structure, the stair tower divides the space. Downstairs is pure studio, over the garage is pure living, while the upstairs over the studio has dual functions.”
The extended facade faces south west and east, so the trees are useful in shading these spaces.
Ultimately we see the street facade, in addition to a glimpse of a few the LEED-certified residences at the space. The water feature and planting in front of the live-work studio really are a wonderful touch that sets the building apart from the residential context.
The entry to the building is adjacent to and set back in the glazed stair tower. From inside, the light coming in the latter is evident, illuminating the wood and steel steps.
Turning left after coming in the front door attracts you to the work space. Signage makes this clear, as does the look of the reception area and the seminar room outside.
Here is another view of the reception space, almost comfortable enough for a living area.
The workspace, that overlooks the parking area and another residences, is a double-height space. It looks like the project really works to obscure the distinctions between working and living, both spatially and in style and furnishings. “Boundaries are blurred in the sense that the royal studio is open to over,” say the architects, “with the idea of creating connections and the fact that flexible spaces can adapt to change.”
They include, “With developments to our household — a 4-year-old plus a 3-month-old — in the six years we’ve been in the space, we’ve sharpened the boundaries a little with the addition of a sliding door in the pure living zone. It has worked great, and allowing for change was a part of the strategy. Architecture is a lifestyle. Rather than commuting or separating our own lives, we live that which we work and love what we do.”
Intexure says that in the live-work studio, “regions are designed with flexibility and dual functions in your mind.” This is evident in the second-floor dining room area that could easily double as a work/conference area.
The living room proper is fairly casual, very open and full of light, because of generous glazing.
The architects amount up the job and their job nicely: “Having a construction that we made as our workspace is a great way to practice what we preach. The construction includes many sustainable features and serves as an illustration of our philosophy — buildings that reflect to their own time and place, react to the website, and honesty in the use of substances.”