The owner of Augusta Vin originally wanted a plantation-style project with wrap around porches on the first and second floors as a tasting room for the vineyard’s products. We happened to have a conceptual structural design kicking around the Texas Timber Frames office inspired by a traditional old world timber structure called a cruck frame, which the owner loved. The cruck frame is notable for using arched trees to catch rafters and achieve a clear span; a byproduct of the best and straightest material going to shipbuilding in the old world.
Between the desire for a large two-story porch on the front to frame views to their 70 acres of vineyards, and the need for a 50’ interior clear span to achieve an open plan for seating, bars, and craft vendors, Texas Timber Frames was able to adapt, modernize, and scale up the cruck frame concept with the use of glu-lam arches instead of naturally shaped trees for primary support. After realizing the massive volume created by the structural concept, a central catwalk was introduced for access to the balcony, additional seating, and to bring people up into the heart of the structure under clerestory windows and natural daylight.
The largest challenge came in material procurement; although we used glu-lams for the arched members in the timber frame, the owner wanted as much of the project to be natural timber as possible. Due to the sheer scale, some of that material is large – close to 40’ tall and 16” thick posts – beams like that are not easy to come by, and the project required 12 of them. Due to this predicament, we implemented some special concealed joinery within the timber posts to support cantilevered overhangs.
The primary structure is of Douglas Fir glu-lam and natural timber beams held together using traditional mortise and tenon timber joinery with structural oak pegs and T&G decking. The frame has a surprisingly small amount of steel joinery considering the long spans, and is truly a showcase of modern timber construction. This massive timber structure is made possible and much easier to produce with Hundegger’s k2 machine in Texas Timber Frame’s fabrication shop. The Hundegger CNC machine pre-cuts timber joinery into our beams while hand-chiseling is required to add finishing touches, this process makes installation on-site much more efficient by creating an easily assembled kit of “adult Lincoln logs”.
The project consists of a large 20’ deep entry porch and balcony that gives sweeping views of the Augusta Vin vineyard in Fredericksburg, Texas. The interior opens to a 50’ by 50’ volume with serving, seating, display areas, and exposed timber frame structure. The main wine tasting bar is under the central catwalk within the 50’ by 50’ space and features a “waffle slab” of intersecting timbers creating the ceiling. The rear 20’ of structure is utilized for service, mechanical, and storage areas with an upstairs extension that overlooks Nasse Creek in the back of the property.