• The architects emulated Louis Kahn’s notion of wrapping ruins around buildings, in this case the ruin of inspiration being a rotting tree stump. The porous cladding creates a dappled light on the interior. Photo by andrew pogue photography

The banks of the Colorado River in Austin are crowded with trees — bald cypress, sycamore, cottonwood, elm, and others. Some of them are dead, no more than rotting stumps, half-in and half-out of the water. These ghostly but somehow appealing sentinels became the inspiration for a remarkable boat dock designed by Andersson-Wise Architects. Sited at the end of Bunny Run, west of the 360 Bridge, on an empty lot, the little pleasure pavilion was meant to be something of a folly, though a useful one, that the clients would one day gaze down upon from the house they intended to build further up the bank. The architects clad the exterior of the steel frame superstructure with vertically oriented, irregularly spaced cedar boards. The result is a deeply textured surface with a multitude of gaps through which air and light can pass, creating a dappled pattern of light and shadow on the interior. “We tried to emulate Louis Kahn’s idea of wrapping ruins around buildings,” says Arthur Andersson, FAIA. “The idea was to not have walls that are completed. There is not such a rigor to the ordering, so you’re free to see the view and to be there in a free way.” While light and air move freely through the wall, screens between the boards keep the bugs out of the upstairs room, which is also outfitted with moveable screen walls, so the space can be completely enclosed, or open. The railing around the terrace also slides away for a jumping platform. Sinker cypress floors and a Douglas fir ceiling, painted like a Persian rug, add to the rich material palette and complement the clients’ eclectic collection of antique artifacts from around the world.

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