Image
2008 Grand Award - Accessory Building, Varnville, S.C., Private Pier
Entrant/Architect: Robert M. Cain, Architect, Atlanta; Builder: Brunson Construction Co., Hampton, S.C.

A set of concrete steps leads from the yard down to the cantilevered dock.
Image
The standing-seam metal roof and built-in wooden benches (right) make the project a perfect place for lazing away a hot summer day.

The Custom Home Design Awards judges rhapsodized over this covered pier in South Carolina. “The interaction with the water is beautiful,” said one. “It's an absolutely elegant problem-solving exercise.”

Robert M. Cain, the pier's architect, also designed a main house just 30 to 40 feet away for his client, builder Wallie Hiers. While walking the site before the home's design process began, he noticed a borrow pit dug years earlier during construction of a road on the property. He decided that, with a few improvements, the pit would make a nice lake. “We had the bottom dredged out to make it a little deeper, and recontoured it,” he says. To create an even more inviting atmosphere, he came up with the idea of the cantilevered pier supported by four concrete pilings.

The project consists mostly of the same materials used on the main house—salvaged wood, steel beams, and a standing-seam metal roof. From a distance, the overall effect is that of a little house with transparent walls. The owners use the dock for activities including fishing, boating, and swimming. But its most important function is providing a spot to just sit and enjoy the beauty of the site. Of course, the good looks of the structure itself weren't lost on the judges. “It's beautifully scaled and proportioned,” one commented. “It's a very sweet thing.”


Entrant/Architect: Robert M. Cain, Architect, Atlanta; Builder: Brunson Construction Co., Hampton, S.C.; Living space: 236 square feet; Site: 200 acres; Construction cost: $100 a square foot; Photographer: Rob Karosis/robkarosis.com