Clayton Korte joins a wine cellar hidden in a Texas hill
San Antonio architectural firm Clayton Korte tucked a wine cellar in the hills of Texas, tucked away in a limestone cave so that it disappeared into the surrounding landscape.
The cave is located near the owner’s ranch, in the rugged countryside around Austin.
The wine cellar includes a tasting room, bar and toilets, as well as a collection of 4000 bottles kept at optimum temperature thanks to the colder underground climate.
When the local practice Clayton korte, formerly Clayton & Little, entered the project, the owners had previously tunneled into the side of the hill, measuring 18 feet (five meters) high and 70 feet (21 meters) deep.
In this opening, the firm inserted a wooden module like a “boat in a bottle”, to create an interior that is both waterproof and on a human scale.
“We started with a 3D scan of the existing excavation using our Matterport Pro2 camera and three-dimensional mapping all of the irregularities in the existing cave,” said Brian Korte, director of Clayton Korte.
“By carefully handling the solids and voids of the wooden box, the cave could be concealed and revealed to the occupant, taking advantage of the good qualities of underground construction while protecting from unwanted moisture and darkness. “
The entrance is capped with a concrete gate made of planks, which helps to retain loose stones or gravel while melting the wooden volume with the irregular surface of the limestone.
Eventually, this will be overgrown with native moss and ivy to help the intervention, which is already hidden behind tall oak and elm trees, blend more into its frame.
The limestone boulders collected during the original excavation form a small entrance courtyard, terraced flower beds and several slab steps leading down into the cave.
A wall of windows framed in steel and wood allows daylight to filter inside while providing a visual connection to the outside.
“It maintains the feeling of occupation underground without the overwhelming environmental conditions that would make someone look to leave,” Korte said.
“In this way, the cave can be viewed from the safety of inner space in the same way that the stars can be viewed from the relative safety of Earth.”
Inside, the suspended ceilings are paneled in vertical grain Douglas fir while the walls are clad in raw or blackened oak.
The original cave walls, which are clad in shotcrete, are strategically exposed throughout the interior and contrast with the warmth and tactility of the wood.
The same custom insulated glazing that lines the entrance is also used to separate the living room from the refrigerated cellar beyond.
Located at the far rear of the plan, this opens to reveal the high vaulted ceilings of the original cave and offers flexible storage for the owner’s growing collection.
Many of the furnishings throughout the interior, including the tasting bar and floating vanity, are custom made from reclaimed cedar wood from a local sawmill.
“They come from trees felled in the area following a 200-year-old major flood that wiped out amazing cedars and cypresses. We were happy to be able to breathe new life into these slabs,” said Korte.
Formerly known as Clayton & Little, Clayton Korte recently changed name to reflect a shift in leadership and ownership, with co-founder Emily Little remaining as a Distinguished Partner.
Previously, the company created a barn from reclaimed oilfield pipes and weatherproof steel panels for a California vineyard and renovated a mid-century residence in Austin.
The photograph is by Casey dunn.