The Live Work Studio

Rame and Russell Hruska designed their home

and studio-known as the Live-Work Studio-in

Houston's Museum Park district. Using contemporary,

minimalist materials such as Galvalume metal

siding and locally sourced wood and adding elements

such as a neighborhood gathering area in their backyard,

the Hruskas have woven together elements of sustainability

and community in their home and the surrounding

area, where they've built nearly a dozen more homes.

American Builders Quarterly spoke to the Hruskas,

cofounders oflntexure Architects, about what makes

the Live-Work Studio an unusual urban home and office.

ABQ: Your approach to environmentally friendly design

goes a lot further than simply sourcing materials from

less than 500 miles away. What are some of the other

sustainable elements in your home?

Russell Hruska: First of all, we pay close attention to

the building orientation. It's an easy way to dramatically

affect heating and cooling in a house without costing

more money. In the Live-Work Studio, we put most of

the glass on the eastern fa~ade, which is shaded by trees

and overhangs, and we limited southern and western

exposures to afternoon sun. We used operable windows

throughout the home to capture the southeastern breeze.

We have such good natural light that we typically don't

turn our lights on during the day.

Rame Hruska: We also place a great deal of importance

in the honesty of materials. That means we leave exposed what a lot of builders would cover up so we use less

material. For example, we left the pine subflooring

exposed, which serves as the ceiling for the first-floor

gallery space and finished flooring on the second floor.

Not having superfluous decorative elements-and using

fewer materials-takes up fewer resources.

ABQ: How does the Live-Work Studio fit into an existing

Houston neighborhood?

Rame: Even though our work is very contemporary, we

want to preserve the older homes and the character of the

streets in our neighborhood. We've been strategic about

where to provide new urban infill. Our projects preserve

green space and address the scale and rhythm of the

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streetscape. We want to be change-makers, but we're very

mindful of trying to integrate urban infill into the existing fabric.

ABQ: How does your home encourage a sense of

community in your neighborhood?

Rame: When we moved into this neighborhood in 2006,

it was still considered very transitional. Since then, we've

built 10 houses and have land for six more. We've created

a shared community space and an organic garden in the

green space connecting the homes, so we get together

over glasses of wine and let the kids play. This spring we

harvested over 60 pounds of tomatoes for our neighbors

and ourselves.

Russell: The people who buy our homes are diverse in

terms of ages and ethnicities, but there's a real like-mindedness

in terms of sustainability and community. The

change in our neighborhood in just a few years is really

remarkable, and we want to continue to make a difference

to this community through positive urban infill.

ABQ: As architects designing and building your own

home, you must have had high standards for yourself.

What sorts of challenges, obstacles, or issues did you

encounter?

Russell: We had great ideas and a limited budget, but I

think we did a good job of achieving something fantastic.

We share a philosophy about the underlying notions of

design-being honest about the materials, the way we use

structure and appropriate scale; we both have that same

sense. We might argue about individual details, but that

underlying sense puts us in line with each other and the

rest of our office. -Laura M. Browning

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