Shady Lane Creative Studios is an office, retail, and affordable housing concept in the culturally diverse east side of Austin, Texas. The location, born from cattle ranching and industrial roots, is now Austin’s foremost arts district where studios, galleries, bars, cafes, and food trucks abound. A mash-up of Austin institutions and new local startups add to the undeniably unique character, providing a relaxed and colorful counterpoint to the more corporate central business district.
The project sits within a rapidly growing neighborhood which is transforming many old industrial lots into a congregation of affordable living and intellectually creative industries. The site itself is next to public transportation, including a future light rail station, and a 26-acre public park which is connected to expansive hike and bike trails. The project encourages biking to work by providing ample bike storage and on-site showering facilities. The project is also part of a planned unit development that will address the neighborhood’s future needs in a considerate manner through cultural, commercial, and affordable housing projects.
Preserving and respecting the identity of the site was a priority. An existing historic 1920’s house that is on site will be rehabilitated and turned into a restaurant, including restoration of the original character of the home and preservation of all interior wood floors and wood wall finishes. The new building, is therefore, arranged around the existing house. The byproduct of which is the creation of a central courtyard bounded by buildings new and old. On site, new and old architecture play against one another, expressing both the neighborhood’s past and its present creative energy. The new structure is a composition of three right triangles, each punctured by light wells, ensuring narrow floor plates so natural light can be brought throughout the interiors. The geometry of the triangles was also carefully oriented for views of the adjacent park, the courtyard, and downtown.
The building is designed with the highest standard in energy efficient materials. Water collection is used for irrigation and the roof is connected for future photovoltaic panel installation. Generous 12-foot-tall interiors, with floor to ceiling glass, are wrapped by strategically placed perforated screens to act as a shield from the harsh Texas sun. The geometry and transparencies establish a direct connection to the 9000 SF central courtyard and blur the line between indoor and outdoor, creating an overlap between landscape and architecture.
Shady Lane Creative Studios is and example of addressing Austin’s rapid growth in a culturally, urbanistically, and environmentally respectful way. The project is regional architecture that strives to be connected to its city’s past, present, and future.