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****   Honor Award - 2009   ****
Backyard Stealth
(# 258)
Category: Various & Sundry
Images Description Credits

Backyard Stealth

Site/Context:  The site for this project is the backyard of a typical Mediterranean house in a city well known for mandating traditional styles for all structures visible from the public domain.  While the city is undeniably beautiful – block after block of perfectly maintained residences and manicured landscapes – for some people, the overall homogeneity is suffocating.

Program and Client’s wish:  To alleviate some of this monotony, our client asked us to design a shade structure, fountain, and swimming pool (with spa) for his backyard that would serve as a sensitive contemporary response to the surrounding historical styles – structures that would be sculptural, dynamic, and bold – but still “fit in.”  

Solution:  Our solution was to design a collection of elements that by virtue of sensitive siting, form-making, and material selection, would stand in productive dialogue with their surroundings. 

Shade Structure:  The most obvious of these elements is the triangular shade structure that frames the view of the pool from the house and creates a clear focal point at the rear of the yard.   In combination with the existing house and garage, the structure creates a well-balanced solid-void relationship that gives the backyard space the feeling of a compound.  This structure’s triangular shape, while possibly seeming arbitrary at first glance, has two clear, performative qualities to add to its dynamic, sculptural form.  First, its wider side to the west of the pool creates shade for lounging and relaxing, while at its pointy end, the pool and spa remain in full sunlight for most of the day.  The wood decking is built from reclaimed teak.  Second, the roof’s primary frontal orientation addresses the commonly-used backyard entrance that is located at the opposite corner of the backyard, where the driveway ends. Its stealthy form is just visible from the public street – a subtle critique of the city’s codes, but the use of white plaster as its primary cladding material assures that this view blends in with the existing house and garage, which use the same material.

Fountain:  From the lounge area under the triangular roof, the shade structure also frames a compelling view of the fountain, which has a contrasting rectilinear form.  The material of the fountain is concrete with both smooth and board-formed finishes, the latter of which includes a pattern of inserted one-inch bronze channels.  The resultant texture and the high level of craftsmanship are consistent with the handcrafted quality of the best traditional structures, and further contributes to this structure’s comfortable relationship with the surrounding buildings. Beyond the obvious esthetic qualities of the fountain - such as its sculptural form, the glimmer of its waterfall, or the soothing psychological sounds it creates - it has an important performative function as well:  it hides the pool equipment and masks its incessant hum. 

Cost: The cost of the project was $85,000.


   

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