Camp Frio by Tim Cuppett Architects is a mix of vintage and new in a weekend home

Texas-based architects design a contemporary ‘dogtrot’ second home with a meditation and art studio in a Hill Country area in Texas, USA, that encourages outdoor simulation.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Sep 09, 2020

Texas-based Tim Cuppett Architects designs a family home in a remote location in Leakey, Texas, USA that attempts to walk away from conventional weekend home designs. While most second home designs may focus inwards, architect Tim Cuppett’s agenda was to encourage people and compel them to go enjoy nature, fresh air and active pursuits.

  • The multi-family compound rises from a remote valley on the bank of the Frio River | Camp Frio | Tim Cuppett Architects| STIRworld
    The multi-family compound rises from a remote valley on the bank of the Frio River Image: Paul Finkel, Whit Preston
  • Camp Frio serves as a shelter with an environmental experience | Camp Frio | Tim Cuppett Architects| STIRworld
    Camp Frio serves as a shelter with an environmental experience Image: Paul Finkel, Whit Preston

Apart from buying his own 2.8-acre family compound in 2008, the client David Dalgleish conceived Frio Cañon, a 200-acre parcel of land as a ‘legacy community’ which he bought with an investor. A destination for multiple generations of family, where children range free, and one that encourages neighbours’ interaction was envisioned. Dalgleish wished to control the development in the second-home community by keeping a selection of the best architects from Austin, Texas, on the panel of architects that house owners can choose from. Tim Cuppet Architects, one of the architects on the panel, have designed the Camp Frio project by the Frio river.

The design compels people to go enjoy nature | Camp Frio | Tim Cuppett Architects| STIRworld
The design compels people to go enjoy nature Image: Paul Finkel, Whit Preston

The strategically designed multi-family compound rises from a remote, green valley on the bank of the Frio River deep in the Texas Hill Country. “The goal for this project was to create shelters with an environmental experience unique to its place where Summer madness gives way to Winter stillness; where city life and digital stimulation are replaced by the experience of feeling a cool breeze or snuggling up to a warm fire,” shares Tim Cuppett, Founding Partner of Tim Cuppett Architects.

Screened porches envelope the structure and create cozy living chambers| Camp Frio | Tim Cuppett Architects| STIRworld
Screened porches envelope the structure and create cozy living chambers Image: Paul Finkel, Whit Preston

The road to the property is parallel to the river and all the buildings on-site have been carefully rotated to maximise the picturesque views while avoiding views of and from the neighbours. The program was divided into a series of components; a main house with a partial second level for a bunkroom, two guest cottages with sleeping lofts, and a garage with an art space and meditation room above. These spaces are linked by a series of bridges to give freedom to the kids to move around.

The interior spaces maximise on natural illumination | Camp Frio | Tim Cuppett Architects| STIRworld
The interior spaces maximise on natural illumination Image: Paul Finkel, Whit Preston

The dining area becomes the central ‘breezeway’ to the entire dwelling much like ‘dogtrot’ homes of the past. The essential living room, kitchen, and first-floor master bedroom are relatively small with average-height ceilings with the dining area being a part screened porch which can be left open or closed off. Bookended with slide doors on both sides, the fresco dining area can be used across the year as the skylight above brings in a cozy feeling with the natural illumination. “The breezeway does a fantastic job of ventilating the space. Our intention was that it be left open most of the time. One of our goals in the project was to make sure the family did not lock themselves into air-conditioned spaces,” says Cuppett.

  • The interiors are infolded in bold colours | Camp Frio | Tim Cuppett Architects| STIRworld
    The interiors are infolded in bold colours Image: Paul Finkel, Whit Preston
  • Secondary sleeping spaces occupy an attic | Camp Frio | Tim Cuppett Architects| STIRworld
    Secondary sleeping spaces occupy an attic Image: Paul Finkel, Whit Preston

Screened porches at the front and back of the structure envelope and create cozy living chambers. Secondary sleeping spaces occupy an attic that spans the rear porch of the main house while guest cottages feature open lofts for the kids to sleep in. Structures were detailed for simplicity of construction with readily available, local materials and fashioned by local tradesmen.

  • The dining area becomes the central ‘breezeway’ to the entire dwelling | Camp Frio | Tim Cuppett Architects| STIRworld
    The dining area becomes the central ‘breezeway’ to the entire dwelling Image: Paul Finkel, Whit Preston
  • All rooms capture tranquil views of the property| Camp Frio | Tim Cuppett Architects| STIRworld
    All rooms capture tranquil views of the property Image: Paul Finkel, Whit Preston

The interiors are infolded in bold colours wherein the living room is intimate, cool, and dark. Guided by the art-trained homeowner, the architects have balanced the dual, opposing human needs for prospect and refuge. The balance between the dark rooms and cozy interiors also brings a cooling environment in the summer, and warmth in the winter months.

  • Site plan of Camp Frio | Camp Frio | Tim Cuppett Architects| STIRworld
    Site plan of Camp Frio Image: Courtesy of Tim Cuppett Architects
  • Floor plans of the various buildings  | Camp Frio | Tim Cuppett Architects| STIRworld
    Floor plans of the various buildings Image: Courtesy of Tim Cuppett Architects

The architecture of the Camp Frio compound is emphatically contemporary and strikes a poise between comforting vintage tone through the use of simple but lucid forms supported by long-standing rustic materials. 

Project Details

Project Name: Camp Frio
Location: Leakey, Texas
Architect: Tim Cuppett, AIA, and David Kilpatrick, AIA, Tim Cuppett Architects, Austin, Texas
Builder: David Dalgleish, Dalgleish Construction, Austin
Interior Designer: Homeowner with Adriana Chetty, Tim Cuppett Architects, Austin
Landscape Design: Rebecca Leonard, Lionheart Places, Austin
Project size: 3,600 square feet (conditioned space)

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