This sculptural home in Austin is a scene-stealer, for more reasons than just its good looks. For starters, the dwelling—named the Vista Residence—is powered with a 15.4-kiloWatt rooftop photovoltaic system that not only covers an estimated 90% of the home’s annual energy needs, but is expected to help save homeowners more than $94,000 in energy costs over the next 30 years. Miró Rivera Architects designed the abode with many energy-efficient features for long-term cost savings that include both low-tech and high-tech elements from deep overhangs to a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) mechanical system.


exterior of house

sculptural central stair

Nestled into a steep slope in West Austin, the Vista Residence lives up to its name with full-height glazing that frames sweeping views of the hill country landscape and downtown Austin. The large windows, found throughout the home, let in ample natural light. A material palette dominated by exposed concrete, metal and concrete panel cladding emphasize low maintenance and a contemporary aesthetic.

full height windows

bathroom with full height glazing

Inside, the 8,660-square-foot house is split into three floors and organized around a dramatic staircase made from over 200 individual pieces of steel and white oak treads. Flooded with light from above, the dramatic central stair branches off to the various rooms of the home defined by white walls and white oak floors. The first floor, which is partially buried into the hillside, houses two bedrooms, a shared bath, a game room, a storage / mechanical room as well as access to a small courtyard. The floor above is far more spacious and consists of the main living areas as well as the master suite. A small third floor contains an office with a sitting area, kitchenette, bath and outdoor balcony.

living area

modern kitchen with breakfast bar

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The architects installed a 15.4-kiloWatt rooftop photovoltaic system that covers an estimated 90% of the Vista Residence’s annual energy, an amount the architects say is equivalent to offsetting 18.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year (equal to the annual energy use of 1.8 average homes). The payback period for solar will take an estimated eight years. High-performance materials and energy-saving fixtures were installed throughout.

+ Miró Rivera Architects

Images by Paul Finkel | Piston Design>