can't Be-leaf-it

Relive childhood dreams in these very adult tree houses taking root in South Austin

Relive childhood dreams in adult tree houses rooting in South Austin

3202 Clawson tree houses south austin
The homes are inspired by the tree houses of youth. Courtesy rendering
3202 Clawson tree houses south austin
Windows hightlight the indoor-outdoor connection. Courtesy photo
3202 Clawson tree houses south austin
Metal and wood pop up throughout the space. Courtesy photo
3202 Clawson tree houses south austin
The second story looks out over a canopy of trees. Courtesy photo
3202 Clawson tree houses south austin
Homes come in 2- and 2.5-bath options. Courtesy photo
3202 Clawson tree houses south austin
3202 Clawson tree houses south austin
3202 Clawson tree houses south austin
3202 Clawson tree houses south austin
3202 Clawson tree houses south austin

If you live in Austin and appreciate great design, chances are you've found yourself marveling at one of Mark Odom Studio's creations. The architects behind Bumble's North Austin headquarters, multiple Birds Barbershops locations, and Wanderlust Yoga in the Domain, Mark Odom's commercial and residential works have been lauded by the likes of Austin Home, Dwell, and Architectural Digest.

Mark Odom Studio's design aesthetic is decidedly modern but not without its touches of whimsy. Whether its a peek-a-boo pool on a deck of the upcoming East 6th Hotel or the inside-to-outside beams running through a Waxahachie lake house, fans of Odom's work know to expect the unexpected.

It should come as little surprise that in finding inspiration for their latest project, the team is turning to a delightful source: tree houses. 3202 Clawson, a residential project located just off South Lamar Boulevard in the fashionable 78704 ZIP code, is a series of eight "modern tree houses" designed in response to the natural foliage around them. 

"Existing trees were used not only as focal points for each building but also for various interior rooms, nestling each structure around the patterned landscape," says Mark Odom, founding principal of Mark Odom Studio, of the unique approach. "Room and window placement was then key so that each structure could take full advantage of its placement in the natural landscape — and still maintain privacy from neighbors."

This results, explains Odom, in eight unique floor plans in either two- or three-bedroom options. Though different in design, each of the eight condos has a trademark modern style built out with high-end finishes, cement floors, and pops of wood and steel.

To turn house into tree house, Odom and team worked hard to bring the outdoors inside, utilizing windows, balconies, and glass doors throughout to allow for views of the existing tree canopies. It's a technique, says Odom, that defines much of the team's design ethos. "We believe that architecture should compliment the site by celebrating its surrounding and contextual amenities ... topography, trees, and views," he says. 

Beyond being beautiful, the project also tackles a growing issue in Austin: housing. The 1-acre project site, which originally housed just one single-family home, was divided into four separate lots, commonly known as an "infill." 

"This type of development is critical to solving Austin's 'missing middle' dilemma, as it strategically densifies an underutilized parcel of land while keeping the same scale of the neighborhood," explains Odom, who goes on to note that infilling does not mean lower quality, just smaller square footage inside Austin's  urban core.

Now, 3202 Clawson may have been inspired by relics of childhood, the homes come with a decidedly adult price tag ranging from $599,000 to $725,000. That price nearly doubles the Austin's current median home price of $361,200. Instead, it is priced to compete with nearby neighborhoods like Zilker, where a median home price is $599,000, according to Zillow.

Even with an asking price well above the city's median, there will likely be many eager homeowners willing to hide out in these tree houses when they hit the market on January 19. 

And as for Odom, 3202 Clawson is more than just another bright spot on his already burgeoning portfolio — it's the chance to artfully respond to Austin's looming housing shortage. Says the architect: "Densifying our neighborhoods through creative design without sacrificing quality, natural surroundings, or character should be the minimum requirement to help Austin's affordable housing issue."