A collection of gated homes near Austin is an architectural landmark

A gated community of five architecturally noteworthy homes rises on a five-and-a-half-acre site west of Austin, Texas. Located in the upscale Westlake Hills area, the five-bedroom homes range in price from $12.5 million to $18 million, with living spaces ranging from about 6,700 to nearly 10,000 square feet.

Described as a “private collective,” the five contemporary, glass-rich residences, each located on approximately one acre, are arranged so that the homes “feel like they belong together,” say the project’s designers. Each house’s orientation, sight lines, landscaping, and partitions are placed so that the structures appear to interact—or even compete with each other—without sacrificing privacy.

The complex offers a rare and thoughtful synergy to what could otherwise be just another homogeneous gated community.

“There’s really nothing like this in Austin,” says Francisco Uzcategui, founder of Houston-based Unicus, a residential design and construction firm leading the project. “It’s rare to be able to design a group of homes in five subdivided lots.”

Five, as Ozcategui modestly calls the project, broke ground in late 2021. The first house will be completed in November and the second in December. Another will be completed in April 2024, and the final two phases will be completed by early 2025. Eric Moreland of Moreland Properties maintains the listing.

A 6-foot-tall limestone wall bisected by a gate borders the front of the project. The houses are located directly further in a U-shape around a wide, tree-lined street. Entrances, courtyards, gardens and views from rooms are oriented, adjacent to each other, to provide balance and symmetry. From above, the development resembles five giant puzzle pieces that form a cohesive whole.

“We build these homes not to maximize the beauty and value of each individual home, but to enhance the five combined as a whole,” says Ozcategui. All residences have pools, gyms, and three- or four-car garages. Two of the homes have a walk-in winery, while the other has a wine cellar.

The homes were designed by architect David Curiel, founder of Curiel Arquitectos, which launched in 2011. The company, which has offices in Mexico City, Texas, employs more than 40 architects, engineers, interior and furniture designers, among others.

Curiel points to Houses 1 and 2, which face each other to the left of the gate. “We put a garden and courtyards in between, so we create green spaces to control the views,” he says. “We use stone walls, and greenery covering the plaster walls throughout the project, which helps blend the lines between the homes.”

House No. 2 presents a modern collection of forms clad in limestone from Mexico. The creamy white to slightly gray facade is highlighted by ridges, and its undersides are covered with plaster applied with an adobe finish, a process that incorporates color into the material. The strong brown color is readable almost black in low light. Red tones appear in brighter light.

This interplay of materials and colours, criss-crossing the walls and window walls, gives a thoughtful yet soothing look. The structure is surrounded by a terraced landscape leading to the entrance.

“Some of the inspiration for the house came from looking at old houses in Los Angeles,” Curiel says of the 9,010-square-foot residence. “So the house has a mid-century vibe.”

Many homeowners can never appreciate their homes from the inside because of the outward-facing architecture, Curiel says. Instead, Curiel turned over his houses.

“We achieve this through layering, planning and orientation of rooms,” he says. “So, if you’re standing in the dining room, you see your covered patio, your landscaping, your pool, your side of the house. You have to appreciate the stone you chose, the color.

The skillful placement of glass walls, often used in hallways, also allows owners to see the space of their property. “The light comes at you from both sides, and you feel the enormity of the amount.” Curiel says. “I think many designers envision the walls first and then put windows in. My strategy is to create glass walls from scratch.

House No. 3 is 8,275 square feet Facing suites embrace a spacious courtyard. The space is anchored by a nearly 130-year-old oak tree, whose canopy reaches 40 feet tall. There is a swimming pool directly behind it.

A U-shaped patio “allows you to enjoy your home from different points within the house,” says Ozcategui. The courtyard was designed around the existing heritage tree, which was moved 10 feet for better placement.

“It took about six months to move the tree and cost us $189,000,” Uzcategui says. “We also planted over 35 mature oak trees brought in from off-site to create these beautiful reference points throughout the property.” Oak trees are 14 to 20 years old and 25 to 30 feet tall, which helps increase privacy.

Marble imported from Mexico covers the facade of Building 3 with a polished, acid-washed finish. The texture adds more appeal and interest to the home, which will be completed in December. “And we invite the same material inside on some of the walls, so it feels like the outdoors is flowing in,” Ozcategui adds. “This provides a lot of warmth.”

Terminal 3 has a stately appearance through its extensive use of marble, but its interiors feel relaxed and even homely, done in part with a warm cream and tan color palette. The floors and kitchen cabinets are made of Bardolino gray oak, a saw-cut wood with an antique look.

House No. 4, scheduled for completion in November, is clad in limestone sourced from the Austin area. “When we started digging, we discovered that the soil was very heavy and strong limestone,” says Ozcategui. “So we used that as inspiration for the front of the house.”

A wide overhang that runs across the front of the 7,961-square-foot home helps deflect the Texas heat. This structure also features an eye-catching 24-by-10-foot copper entry door topped with a smaller overhang.

Along one side of the house is a dramatic two-story stuccoed structure with a deep brown adobe finish. The ultra-modern suite is lined with expansive windows and appears out of proportion with the rest of the house. Ozcategui describes the volume as “museological,” an architectural intervention that happily intrudes, deviates from the main building. Stone facade.

Home No. 1, which has been sold and will be completed in April 2024, is the smallest of the five homes at 6,682 square feet. House No. 5, an L-shaped structure clad in dark Italian brick, is the largest at 9,870 square feet. “The design was more fun, partly because it had mostly glass walls,” Curiel says. The home includes a cabana and a green “eco” roof with sweeping views of the Texas Hill Country.

Five is located six miles west of downtown Austin and a 12-minute drive from the 4,000-acre Barton Creek Habitat Preserve, which has numerous hiking trails. The complex is located within the Ianis Independent School District, which was recently ranked as the 10th best school district in the country.

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(Tags for translation) David Curiel

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