The dock at this Austin, Texas, project was intentionally crafted as an integrated component of the overall site conditions, helping frame the surrounding land, water, and sky.
However, the width and footprint of the dock were constrained by Austin city code based on the width of the lot’s waterfront. As a result, the dock’s footprint is the minimum necessary to support the boarding and storage of a boat. The placement of the dock was further constrained by an existing man-made inlet and steep topography.
While the city’s zoning code does not allow for opaque walls on boat dock structures, Matt Fajkus Architecture’s design solution was to install calibrated perforated screens. In addition to solving the zoning constraints, the screens create an experience with framed views, a level of privacy, and a balance of sun and shade to create a comfortable year-round outdoor environment.
As the seasons shift, the dock was created to provide greater shade during the heat of summer and more sun during the cooler winter months. To achieve the desired balance, the design team utilized digital modeling, sun studies, and parametric input to both craft and analyze the performance of the roof and screens. The dock, designed to have a minimal impact on its ecosystem, was constructed from a barge floating on the water to avoid excessive site clearing or disruption. The dock’s steel structure is treated to last in the marine environment, which alleviates the need for constant maintenance that is common with wood structures.
The steel roof, composed of two triangular planes, is optimized for articulating views to and from the site and modulating direct sunlight exposure. The judges commented how, despite the presence of “heavy” steel, the effect of the project is “very light,” which is a testament to the roof geometry and the perforated screen.
Hardwood and natural stone materials were used for the structure in combination with the dock’s steel frame. The design team sought to integrate the structure with its surroundings while also allowing the project to stand out for its physical expression by changing and reflecting the ambient light and colors of the sky. The project does not include plumbing or HVAC systems, further minimizing its consumption and energy use.