A Sense of Belonging

RioEstancia38_Watermark_20150108021855Nevermind its open plan and fully-glazed walls; the Best in American Living Home of the Year, set in gorgeous ranchland in Texas Hill Country, fits with its surroundings like it’s been there for ages.

Rio Estancia of Boerne, Texas, employs “estancia-style” design, a traditional South American approach that plots multiple buildings in a courtyard fashion, carefully placing them in response to natural surroundings.

The two-bedroom, two-bath, 1250-square-foot house, shaded among a small grove of oaks, rests on a 350-acre property along the Guadalupe River. Taking cues from the panoramic vistas offered on the property, the main home, bedrooms and guest quarters were organized in the estancia fashion, utilizing the elements of pavilion-living components to frame the main courtyard around the pool and edging up to the river and the prevailing southeast Texas breeze.

The entry courtyard of the family compound offers a unique natural front door allowing a full view of the land. The building program was organized in four zones, offering owners and guests private areas for living and entertaining as well as privacy and screening for parking, so as not to interrupt the private areas of the landscape.

The transparent and open plan is complemented with large covered terraces and arbors that extend the living spaces to the outside. Locally quarried stone walls block the north wind, while large southern overhangs control the summer sun. Building orientation, electronically controlled window/mechanical systems, geothermal heating/cooling systems, tankless water heaters, expanded foam insulation, reclaimed water systems and solar collection are embraced for harmony with the climate.

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