“No that tree is my sister!” – The Life of a House

The story goes something like this:  At one of our construction sites for a historic renovation and addition two siblings came to the site.  They told one of the construction workers on the site that they came to see their trees that were themselves.  “So this tree is you?” asked the construction worker. “No that tree is my sister. I’m that tree.”  The woman pointed to another 28″ herritage pecan tree on the site. Their parents had planted a tree for each of them at the time of their births some sixty plus years earlier. Their house was still there though years of rental tenants had left the cottage in ill repair, so much so that our historic renovation became close to new construction.  Their trees remained towering over the home, bringing back memories of childhood and love.

Heritage Trees on Site of a Historic Renovation and Addition in the Austin Hyde Park Neighborhood.

Our renovation adds another chapter to the story of the trees.  Our client, a photographer and avid bird watcher wanted to inhabit the trees.  We designed a roof top balcony for her tucked away from the street view, nestled up in the trees of the previous owners childhood.  Homes have many lives. Lives that evolve through time, memories become imbedded in the walls and the spaces the walls frame.

“Oh, there were empty houses and houses half-constructed where, as children, we stamped about on the bare winter-pale wood sending up clouds of sawdust into the half-formed rooms, where the wall-frames rose up like thin unfleshed arms and the roof was partly sky, summer-blue, endless as our visions of childhood and life without death. ”  

This quote by Jane Frame, Living in the Manioto was taken from the book House as a Mirror of Self by Clare Cooper Marcus.   This is one of those few books I read in college almost 20 years ago that has stayed in my thoughts.  It describes how the spaces we are raised in affect our perception of the world for the rest of our lives.  Our homes are where we feel the safest and the most love. These spaces imprint on our psyche, and inform our kinesthetic sense guiding the types of spaces we seek out for the rest of our lives.  This makes our job as architects so important, it is a privelage to work with people to imagine the spaces of their future memories.


About clarkrichardson

Clark Richardson Architects practice design with the goal of creating contemporary architectural experiences through form, sustainability and detail. We specialize in green building, sustainable residential and commercial design and have architectural studios in Santa Fe and Austin and a design studio New Orleans.
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