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Architectural Firm Clayton Korte designs a private wine cave
that disappears into the hillside in Texas Hill Country, Texas.



Architecture and Interior Design: Clayton Korte
Structural Engineer: SSG Structural Engineers
Civil Engineer: Intelligent Engineering Services
Lighting Design: Studio Lumina
Mechanical Engineer: Positive Energy
Concrete subcontractor: Dash Concrete
Specialty steel fabrication: Fasone and Associates
Art metalwork: Cactus Max Fine Metal Artwork
Contractor: Monday Builders

The Apothem Lounge at Mason&Objet ©AETHION

Raphel Navot
©Cerruti Draime


Subsequently, his portfolio is a rich spread of multidisciplinary projects that showcase French craftsmanship and skill, ranging from examples of hospitality interiors to both bespoke and commercial product design. He worked with David Lynch on the Parisian nightclub Silencio (2011). Raphael recalls, “The first known project I worked on was Silencio in collaboration with David Lynch. When looking back, I do recognize the usage of natural materials and already back then the integration of traditional and local crafts. However, in terms of concept, my first real breakthrough was Hotel National des Arts et Métiers, as it encompasses so many aspects of what I have continued doing until today. I had full independency with a very brave and liberal owner that was entirely sensible to shift the attention of the guest back to what I then stated as The Natural Future. We had a very large team, a healthy budget, and a lot of time, all of which are rare a precious for any type of construction. It helped me as a designer to manifest collective ideas and to integrate artisans that have a vast knowledge of stone carving, raw linen weaving, mineral wall textures, and Eiffeltype iron mechanism.”

He has also collaborated on the production of a highly technical line of end-grain flooring for Oscar Ono (2016), and created a collection of 12 families of furniture - from sofas and tables to rugs and lamps - for Roche Bobois (2018). However, his work on the Hôtel National des Arts et Métiers (2017) has possibly been the most significant endeavor for the Designer so far.




Located at the eastern edge of the Texas Hill Country, this private wine cave is a destination along a secluded bend of the Blanco River. The shotcrete lined tube, excavated into the north face of a solid limestone hillside, is protected on the east and west by tall oak and elm trees, allowing it to almost disappear within the native landscape. The unassuming exterior entry court reveals a bit of mystery as it provides just a glimpse of what lies within. Heavy limestone boulders collected from the excavation and lush vegetation further camouflage the entry as you descend into the mouth of the cave.

A tasting lounge, bar, wine cellar, and restroom are all tucked into an 18’ tall x 70’ deep existing tunnel. The exterior opening of the cave is capped with a board-formed concrete portal that molds to the irregular surfaces of the limestone and structurally retains the mouth of the earth cut. The concrete is meant to patina naturally over time as native moss and ivy cling to the face and climb onto the flanking limestone walls to blend the headwall into its surroundings further.



Primary exterior material: board-formed concrete
Primary exterior doors: custom, wood-clad doors
Primary exterior door hardware: Rocky Mountain Hardware
Secondary exterior door hardware: Deltana, Rixson, Simonswerk, Saint Louis Design, Dorma
Light fixtures: BK Lighting, Sistemalux, Tech Lighting, RAB, Lumimii, WAC, Ecosense, 3G, Lightcraft
Custom-designed pendant light (cellar): Clayton Korte
Appliances: Miele, Sub Zero, Perlick, Wolf
Plumbing fixtures: Toto, Vigo, Kohler, Watermark


Once inside, a study of raw and ebonized white oak mixes with vertical grain Douglas fir to panel the walls and dropped ceilings as a warm contrast to the more rugged concrete and stone surrounding it. Custom insulated and thermally broken steel and wood windows separate the interior and exterior, the entertaining lounge, and the chilled cellar. Reclaimed cedar was salvaged and milled for live-edged countertop surfaces for the tasting bar and the floating restroom vanity. “It’s like a ship in a bottle,” notes Brian Korte, FAIA, lead architect for the project. “The components of the wood insert are deliberately kept away from the existing cave walls so that the room remains adaptable.”

Sitting under the fully arched profile at the back of the cave, the private cellar is surrounded by casework providing storage for an ever-expanding private collection of +/-4,000 bottles. This space is thermally controlled by the naturally colder subterranean temperatures with supplemental cooling to help maintain an optimal atmosphere of 55-60 degrees.

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