Launch Slideshow

The new garage, with board-and-batten siding, was designed to look like a pool house.

Award-Winning Custom Outdoor Projects

Award-Winning Custom Outdoor Projects

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    PAUL BURK

    2013 DESIGN AWARDS
    The Treehouse, Washington, D.C.
    Accessory Building | Grand Award

    Project Credits
    Entrant/Architect:Cunningham | Quill Architects, Washington, D.C.; Builder:The Ley Group, Washington; Landscape Architect: Graham Landscape Architecture, Annapolis, Md.; Living Space: 300 square feet; Site: 0.25 acre; Construction Cost: Withheld; Photographer: Paul Burk Photograph

    Centered on a 50-foot lap pool, the new garden culminates in the Treehouse, a screened, bluestone-and-cedar pavilion that serves as both pool house and outdoor living room. In Washington, Cunningham says, “you need cover, you need shade, and you need screens. And you have all that in this building.”

  • The capstone of a new private garden, the Treehouse replaces a detached garage at the rear of an urban lot.

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    The capstone of a new private garden, the Treehouse replaces a detached garage at the rear of an urban lot.

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    PAUL BURK

    The capstone of a new private garden, the Treehouse replaces a detached garage at the rear of an urban lot.

  • The screened bluestone-and-cedar pavilion serves as both a pool house and an open-air living room.

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    The screened bluestone-and-cedar pavilion serves as both a pool house and an open-air living room.

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    PAUL BURK

    The screened bluestone-and-cedar pavilion serves as both a pool house and an open-air living room.

  • Spaced decking and ceiling boards direct cool updrafts through the building, while a small wood-burning stove stretches the season into the spring and fall.

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    Spaced decking and ceiling boards direct cool updrafts through the building, while a small wood-burning stove stretches the season into the spring and fall.

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    PAUL BURK

    Spaced decking and ceiling boards direct cool updrafts through the building, while a small wood-burning stove stretches the season into the spring and fall.

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    Hisey-Mitchell Photography

    2013 DESIGN AWARDS
    Walnut Wood Studio, Cincinnati
    Accessory Building | Merit Award
     

    Project Credits
    Entrant/Architect: John Senhauser Architects, Cincinnati; Builder: Crapsey & Gilles, Loveland, Ohio; Living Space: 320 square feet; Site: 3.3 acres; Construction Cost: Withheld; Photographer: Hisey-Mitchell Photography 

    Architect John Senhauser (who designed the main house years ago) sited the building along the radius of the porte cochere drive, where it breaches a stone wall and perches on four columns, like a birdhouse in the trees.

  • The studio roof is pitched parallel to the houses roof, matching the slope.

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    The studio roof is pitched parallel to the houses roof, matching the slope.

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    Hisey-Mitchell Photography

    The studio roof is pitched parallel to the house’s roof, matching the slope.

  • Window divisions, matching the house, become aluminum plate display shelving and stainless steel work surfaces. Exposed steel, cypress siding, Montauk slate, polished concrete, and walnut cabinetry also draw on the houses material palette.

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    Window divisions, matching the house, become aluminum plate display shelving and stainless steel work surfaces. Exposed steel, cypress siding, Montauk slate, polished concrete, and walnut cabinetry also draw on the houses material palette.

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    Hisey-Mitchell Photography

    Window divisions, matching the house, become aluminum plate display shelving and stainless steel work surfaces. Exposed steel, cypress siding, Montauk slate, polished concrete, and walnut cabinetry also draw on the house’s material palette.

  • View from the porte-cochere

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    View from the porte-cochere

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    View from the porte-cochere

  • The renovation of an existing cottage included a 630-square-foot additionfamily room down, master suite above--a detached garage with a planted roof (visible in foreground), and updated outdoor spaces.

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    The renovation of an existing cottage included a 630-square-foot additionfamily room down, master suite above--a detached garage with a planted roof (visible in foreground), and updated outdoor spaces.

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    Phil Bond

    2013 DESIGN AWARDS
    The Shack, Ross, Calif.
    Outdoor Space | Merit Award
     

    Project Credits
    Entrant/Architect: Feldman Architecture, San Francisco; Builder: Joe Doerr Construction, San Rafael, Calif.; Landscape Designer: Loretta Gargan Landscape + Design, San Francisco; Living Space: 1,363 square feet with 260-square-foot garage; Site: 0.17 acre; Construction Cost: Withheld; Photographer: Phil Bond Photography 

    Architect Jonathan Feldman’s compact addition—a 300-square-foot family room and master suite above—overlooks a pool and stepped terraces made of gravel and board-formed concrete, which were designed by owner and landscape designer Loretta Gargan.

  • The new garage, with board-and-batten siding, was designed to look like a pool house.

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    The new garage, with board-and-batten siding, was designed to look like a pool house.

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    Phil Bond

    The new garage, with board-and-batten siding, was designed to look like a pool house.

  • The compact swimming pool terrace includes board-formed concrete retaining walls and built-in seating.

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    The compact swimming pool terrace includes board-formed concrete retaining walls and built-in seating.

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    Phil Bond

    The compact swimming pool terrace includes board-formed concrete retaining walls and built-in seating.

  • All materials are exposed to the natural elements and they will weather erratically. This decision was consistent with sensibility that imperfections are the beauty and weather marks are the history of a building, explains Hutker.

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    All materials are exposed to the natural elements and they will weather erratically. This decision was consistent with sensibility that imperfections are the beauty and weather marks are the history of a building, explains Hutker.

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    Brian Vanden Brink

    2013 DESIGN AWARDS
    Aucoot Cove Outdoor Shower, Marion, Mass.
    Custom Detail | Grand Award

    Project Credits
    Entrant/Architect: Hutker Architects, Vineyard Haven, Mass.; Builder: Lars V. Olsen Fine Home Building, Marion, Mass.; Landscape Architect: Kimberly Mercurio Landscape Architecture, Cambridge, Mass.; Interior Designer: Barnum & Co., Boston; Photographer: Brian Vanden Brink

    Two of our 2013 Detail winners were outdoor showers, so it seemed fitting to include them in this slideshow. At first glance this outdoor shower may appear to be a simple structure. Closer inspection, however, reveals the depth of detail and precision that elevates it to an award-winning design. The jury proclaimed it to be “killer,” elaborating that it’s an innovative structure with a daily function. Architect Mark Hutker calls it the celery stalk and his glib analogy highlights several inventive features.

  • The design team wanted the shower to read as the strongest part of the porch composition, so they produced a circular opening in the porch overhang so the shower stands as an uninterrupted form.

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    The design team wanted the shower to read as the strongest part of the porch composition, so they produced a circular opening in the porch overhang so the shower stands as an uninterrupted form.

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    Brian Vanden Brink

    All materials are exposed to the natural elements and they will weather erratically. “This decision was consistent with sensibility that imperfections are the beauty and weather marks are the history of a building,” explains Hutker. The design team wanted the shower to read as the strongest part of the porch composition, so they produced a circular opening in the porch overhang so the shower stands as an uninterrupted form.
  • Once the steel frame had been lowered onto the porch, the team rotated it until the structural crossbars were in perfect alignment with the orthogonal points of a compass.

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    Once the steel frame had been lowered onto the porch, the team rotated it until the structural crossbars were in perfect alignment with the orthogonal points of a compass.

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    Brian Vanden Brink

    Once the steel frame had been lowered onto the porch, the team rotated it until the structural crossbars were in perfect alignment with the orthogonal points of a compass.
  • The narrow cedar boards are cut off in a pattern that mirrors the angle of the porch roof while the wider slats are canted in the opposite direction.

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    The narrow cedar boards are cut off in a pattern that mirrors the angle of the porch roof while the wider slats are canted in the opposite direction.

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    Brian Vanden Brink

    This “celery stalk” outdoor shower sits at the front corner of the home’s wraparound porch. At the other end of the porch is the home’s main entry and a dogtrot that provides a cool space to lounge. Architects Jim Cappuccino and Mark Hutker purposely placed the shower just steps away to create tension between these very public and very private spaces.The narrow cedar boards are cut off in a pattern that mirrors the angle of the porch roof while the wider slats are canted in the opposite direction.
  • The client really wanted an outdoor shower and that was part of the program of the entire building, says architect Jennifer Mei.  This was the most private spot on the site and it faces the mountains, so we placed a mostly open outdoor shower here. The idea of a fence extending from the rammed earth wall was something that appealed to us because it wasnt solid but does create privacy.

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    The client really wanted an outdoor shower and that was part of the program of the entire building, says architect Jennifer Mei. This was the most private spot on the site and it faces the mountains, so we placed a mostly open outdoor shower here. The idea of a fence extending from the rammed earth wall was something that appealed to us because it wasnt solid but does create privacy.

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    Matthew Millman

    2013 DESIGN AWARDS
    Trader Addition, Jackson, Wyo.
    Custom Detail | Merit Award

    Project Credits
    Entrant/Architect: Carney Logan Burke Architects, Jackson, Wyo.; Builder: Tennyson-Ankeny Construction, Jackson; Steel Artist: Ben Roth, Jackson; Photographer: Matthew Millman

    “The client really wanted an outdoor shower and that was part of the program of the entire building,” says architect Jennifer Mei. “This was the most private spot on the site and it faces the mountains, so we placed a mostly open outdoor shower here. The idea of a fence extending from the rammed earth wall was something that appealed to us because it wasn’t solid but does create privacy.” She adds that the design team asked local steel artist Ben Roth to create a fence as the shower barrier because they wanted to play with patterns of light and shadow against the rammed earth wall.

  • The overhand for the studio addition is deeper above the shower, partly to shade bathers, but also to protect the rammed earth, which will slowly erode over time. The simple curved shower fixture is also really interesting, Mei adds, so we had the exposed plumbing come directly out of the wall. The stainless steel looks great against the rammed earth.

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    The overhand for the studio addition is deeper above the shower, partly to shade bathers, but also to protect the rammed earth, which will slowly erode over time. The simple curved shower fixture is also really interesting, Mei adds, so we had the exposed plumbing come directly out of the wall. The stainless steel looks great against the rammed earth.

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    Matthew Millman

    The overhand for the studio addition is deeper above the shower, partly to shade bathers, but also to protect the rammed earth, which will slowly erode over time. “The simple curved shower fixture is also really interesting,” Mei adds, “so we had the exposed plumbing come directly out of the wall. The stainless steel looks great against the rammed earth.”
  • The steel fence is composed of slender fins that are angled at varying degrees. The fins split into forks that graduate from short to long. Those subtle moves make the fence appear to undulate as you walk around it and also alters the levels of transparency.

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    The steel fence is composed of slender fins that are angled at varying degrees. The fins split into forks that graduate from short to long. Those subtle moves make the fence appear to undulate as you walk around it and also alters the levels of transparency.

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    Matthew Millman

    The steel fence is composed of slender fins that are angled at varying degrees. The fins split into forks that graduate from short to long. Those subtle moves make the fence appear to undulate as you walk around it and also alters the levels of transparency.
  • The studio/archives pavilion mirrors a guest cottage 240 feet away, overlooking Lake Tahoe.

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    The studio/archives pavilion mirrors a guest cottage 240 feet away, overlooking Lake Tahoe.

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    Stephen Cridland

  • The studio entrance. Each structure contains a single floor-to-ceiling glazed room and storage components in clerestoried adjacent areas.

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    The studio entrance. Each structure contains a single floor-to-ceiling glazed room and storage components in clerestoried adjacent areas.

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    Stephen Cridland

    The studio entrance. Each structure contains a single floor-to-ceiling glazed room and storage components in clerestoried adjacent areas.

  • Natural materialsmahogany, concrete, and glassblend into the setting.

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    Natural materialsmahogany, concrete, and glassblend into the setting.

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    Stephen Cridland

    Natural materials—mahogany, concrete, and glass—blend into the setting.

  • Polished brown concrete floors, mahogany built-ins, and exposed-aggregate concrete decks reinforce the colors and textures found on the site.

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    Polished brown concrete floors, mahogany built-ins, and exposed-aggregate concrete decks reinforce the colors and textures found on the site.

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    Stephan Cridland

    Polished brown concrete floors, mahogany built-ins, and exposed-aggregate concrete decks reinforce the colors and textures found on the site.

  • The guest house faces the archives pavilion across a boardwalk and a Swedish aspen allee.

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    The guest house faces the archives pavilion across a boardwalk and a Swedish aspen allee.

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    Stephen Cridland

    The guest house faces the archives pavilion across a boardwalk and a Swedish aspen allee.

  • Guest house entry. The two-pavilion composition fits the scale of its environment better than a single larger building.

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    Guest house entry. The two-pavilion composition fits the scale of its environment better than a single larger building.

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    Stephen Cridland

    Guest house entry. The two-pavilion composition fits the scale of its environment better than a single larger building.

  • The guest pavilions transparent room overlooks the lake. Viewed from the water, the buildings almost disappear into the trees.

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    The guest pavilions transparent room overlooks the lake. Viewed from the water, the buildings almost disappear into the trees.

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    Stephen Cridland

    The guest pavilion’s transparent room overlooks the lake. Viewed from the water, the buildings almost disappear into the trees.

  • Restrictive zoning on the lake edge limited building area coverage. Basins buried under the gravel sculpture garden help keep all the storm water on site.

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    Restrictive zoning on the lake edge limited building area coverage. Basins buried under the gravel sculpture garden help keep all the storm water on site.

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    Stephen Cridland

    Restrictive zoning on the lake edge limited building area coverage. Basins buried under the gravel sculpture garden help keep all the storm water on site.

  • The buildings are oriented toward views of Lake Tahoe.

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    The buildings are oriented toward views of Lake Tahoe.

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    Stephen Cridland

    The buildings are oriented toward views of Lake Tahoe.

  • Clerestories and glass walls bring the lush scenery into the yoga studio.

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    Clerestories and glass walls bring the lush scenery into the yoga studio.

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    Joe Fletcher

  • Two cabins fit more easily into the steep hillside than one large addition.

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    Two cabins fit more easily into the steep hillside than one large addition.

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    Joe Fletcher

    Two cabins fit more easily into the steep hillside than one large addition.

  • The artist studio, above, overlooks the yoga studios planted roof.

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    The artist studio, above, overlooks the yoga studios planted roof.

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    Joe Fletcher

    The artist studio, above, overlooks the yoga studio’s planted roof.

  • The buildings blend into the surrounding vegetation.

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    The buildings blend into the surrounding vegetation.

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    Joe Fletcher

    The buildings blend into the surrounding vegetation.

  • The curved roof mimics the lands natural forms.

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    The curved roof mimics the lands natural forms.

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    Joe Fletcher

    The curved roof mimics the land’s natural forms.

  • Stepping up the hill so one is perched over the other, each room offers a different point of view.

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    Stepping up the hill so one is perched over the other, each room offers a different point of view.

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    Joe Fletcher

    Stepping up the hill so one is perched over the other, each room offers a different point of view.

  • The lower cabins green roof became a garden art project.

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    The lower cabins green roof became a garden art project.

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    Joe Fletcher

    The lower cabinís green roof became a garden art project.

  • The detached cabins invite the owners to engage with the landscape.

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    The detached cabins invite the owners to engage with the landscape.

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    Joe Fletcher

    The detached cabins invite the owners to engage with the landscape.

  • A low-pitched, terne coated stainless steel roof floats above a dry-stacked slate wall and mahogany volume.

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    A low-pitched, terne coated stainless steel roof floats above a dry-stacked slate wall and mahogany volume.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    CHDA 2012
    Nevis Pool and Garden Pavilion, Bethesda, Md.
    Accessory Building
     

     Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect, Washington, D.C.
  • Pivoting doors open the pavilion in summertime; in winter a Rumford fireplace and heated floors warm the space.

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    Pivoting doors open the pavilion in summertime; in winter a Rumford fireplace and heated floors warm the space.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    Pivoting doors open the pavilion in summertime; in winter a Rumford fireplace and heated floors warm the space.

  • Intended for year-round use, the pavilion is set close to the woods, providing a threshold between the manicured gardens and adjacent woodland.

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    Intended for year-round use, the pavilion is set close to the woods, providing a threshold between the manicured gardens and adjacent woodland.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    Intended for year-round use, the pavilion is set close to the woods, providing a threshold between the manicured gardens and adjacent woodland.

  • Five steel-framed glass doors and mitered glass corners put the lush surroundings front and center.

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpE9BB%2Etmp_tcm52-1250909.jpg

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    Five steel-framed glass doors and mitered glass corners put the lush surroundings front and center.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    Five steel-framed glass doors and mitered glass corners put the lush surroundings front and center.

  • Natural materials include bluestone flooring, stone and mahogany walls, and a Douglas fir ceiling.

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpE9BC%2Etmp_tcm52-1250913.jpg

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    Natural materials include bluestone flooring, stone and mahogany walls, and a Douglas fir ceiling.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    Natural materials include bluestone flooring, stone and mahogany walls, and a Douglas fir ceiling.

  • The mahogany volume houses a bath.

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    The mahogany volume houses a bath.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    The mahogany volume houses a bath.

  • A new swimming pool, stone walls, and terrace behind the existing house organize the rear yard and connect the house and pavilion.

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    A new swimming pool, stone walls, and terrace behind the existing house organize the rear yard and connect the house and pavilion.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    A new swimming pool, stone walls, and terrace behind the existing house organize the rear yard and connect the house and pavilion.

  • Section

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    Section

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    Courtesy Robert M. Gurney

    Section

  • Floor plan

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpE9B6%2Etmp_tcm52-1250889.jpg

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    Floor plan

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    Courtesy Robert M. Gurney

    Floor plan

  • Axonometric

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpE9BF%2Etmp_tcm52-1250929.jpg

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    Axonometric

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    Courtesy Robert M. Gurney

    Axonometric

  • New paths, trees, and plantings reinforce the pavilions geometry.

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    New paths, trees, and plantings reinforce the pavilions geometry.

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    Courtesy Robert M. Gurney

    New paths, trees, and plantings reinforce the pavilion’s geometry.

  • Standing alone in the woods, the building consists of a steel-clad box floating above a half-buried concrete base.

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    Standing alone in the woods, the building consists of a steel-clad box floating above a half-buried concrete base.

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    John J. Macaulay

  • Tucked into the hillside, the lower level contains equipment storage space.

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    Tucked into the hillside, the lower level contains equipment storage space.

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    John J. Macaulay

    Tucked into the hillside, the lower level contains equipment storage space.

  • Back-lit translucent material fills the gap.

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpE920%2Etmp_tcm52-1250549.jpg

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    Back-lit translucent material fills the gap.

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    John J. Macaulay

    Back-lit translucent material fills the gap.

  • The walls, roof, and glass doors are highly sound insulating.

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpE921%2Etmp_tcm52-1250554.jpg

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    The walls, roof, and glass doors are highly sound insulating.

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    John J. Macaulay

    The walls, roof, and glass doors are highly sound insulating.

  • A green roof tops the lower level.

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpE922%2Etmp_tcm52-1250558.jpg

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    A green roof tops the lower level.

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    John J. Macaulay

    A green roof tops the lower level.

  • The longitudinal building section

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpE923%2Etmp_tcm52-1250561.jpg

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    The longitudinal building section

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    Courtesy Johnsen Schmaling Archi

    The longitudinal building section

  • An exploded axonometric rendering

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpE924%2Etmp_tcm52-1250564.jpg

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    An exploded axonometric rendering

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    Courtesy Johnsen Schmaling Archi

    An exploded axonometric rendering

  • The design concept

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpE925%2Etmp_tcm52-1250571.jpg

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    The design concept

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    Courtesy Johnsen Schmaling Archi

    The design concept

  • Positioned along the edge of the lot, this guest-house addition creates a backdrop for the pool and a generous outdoor room.

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpF954%2Etmp_tcm52-791902.jpg

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    Positioned along the edge of the lot, this guest-house addition creates a backdrop for the pool and a generous outdoor room.

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    Michael Moran

    2011 CHDA Outdoor Spaces
    Sunscreen: A Guest Pavilion, Sullivan's Island, S.C.

    Entrant/Architect: Stephen Yablon Architect, New York; Builder: NBM Construction, North Charleston, S.C.; Landscape architect: Wertimer & Associates, Charleston, S.C.; Living space: 1,500 square feet; Site: 0.5 acre; Construction cost: $655 per square foot; Photographer: Michael Moran.
  • A sustainably harvested cypress ceiling adds refinement to the southern-style ??porch.??

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpF957%2Etmp_tcm52-791905.jpg

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    A sustainably harvested cypress ceiling adds refinement to the southern-style ??porch.??

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    Michael Moran

    A sustainably harvested cypress ceiling adds refinement to the southern-style "porch."

  • Image

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    Image

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    Michael Moran

    Standing-seam metal, a common local roofing material, shields the rear facade.

  • The study.

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    The study.

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    Michael Moran

    The study.

  • Sliding gates at the entrances close off the courtyard in the evenings or when the owners are away.

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    Sliding gates at the entrances close off the courtyard in the evenings or when the owners are away.

    600

    Steve Keating

    2011 CHDA Outdoor Spaces
    Wolf Creek, Winthrop, Wash.

    Entrant/Architect: Balance Associates Architects, Seattle; Builder: Bjornsen Construction, Winthrop, Wash.; Living space: 1,810 square feet; Site: 5 acres; Construction cost: Withheld; Photographer: Steve Keating.
  • Scored concrete, raised beds, and sitting areas direct the path to the front door.

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    true

    Scored concrete, raised beds, and sitting areas direct the path to the front door.

    600

    Steve Keating

    Scored concrete, raised beds, and sitting areas direct the path to the front door.

  • The master bedroom has its own intimate courtyard.

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpF961%2Etmp_tcm52-791917.jpg

    true

    The master bedroom has its own intimate courtyard.

    600

    Steve Keating

    The master bedroom has its own intimate courtyard.

  • The house??s shape and orientation block the strong wind and sun.

    http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/tmpF95E%2Etmp_tcm52-791914.jpg

    true

    The house??s shape and orientation block the strong wind and sun.

    600

    Steve Keating

    2011 Merit Award - Wolf Creek, Winthrop, Wash.
    Entrant/Architect: Balance Associates Architects, Seattle; Builder: Bjornsen Construction, Winthrop, Wash.

    The house's shape and orientation block the strong wind and sun.

  • Floor plan.

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    Floor plan.

    600

    Courtesy Balance Associates Architects

    Floor plan.

  • http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/284CHDA_0061%20copy_tcm52-402823.jpg

    true

    600

    Chris Richards

    2010 CHDA
    Grand Award / Outdoor Spaces
    Play Yard at the Winter Residence, Tucson, Ariz.

    Project Credits
    Entrant/Architect/Landscape designer:Ibarra Rosano Design Architects, Tucson, Ariz.
    Builder:Repp Design + Construction, Tucson
    Structural engineer: Harris Engineering Services, Tucson
    Living space: 1,676 square feet (play yard only)
    Site: 3 acres
    Construction cost: $24 per square foot
    Photographer: Chris Richards
  • http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/284CHDA_0045%20copy_tcm52-402822.jpg

    true

    600

    Chris Richards

    2010 Out Spaces' Awards

    2010 Grand Award - Play Yard at the Winter Residence, Tucson, Ariz.
    Entrant/Architect/Landscape designer:Ibarra Rosano Design Architects, Tucson, Ariz.; Builder: Repp Design + Construction, Tucson

    A garden wall keeps young ones in and desert critters out, while a slatted steel cube offers shelter from the sun.

  • http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/284CHDA_1296%20copy_tcm52-402824.jpg

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    600

    Chris Richards

    The desert landscape beyond the yard holds both beauty and danger.

  • http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/IMG_1321_tcm52-402826.jpg

    true

    600

    Chris Richards

    The shade cube consists of a welded steel frame and galvanized steel stud tracks.

  • http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/IMG_9936_tcm52-402828.jpg

    true

    600

    Chris Richards

    A concrete bench provides a work counter for children and a back-saving seat for adults.

  • http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/IMG_9888_tcm52-402827.jpg

    true

    600

    Chris Richards

    A strip of turf separates the sunken play area from the house.

  • http://www.customhomeonline.com/Images/play%20yard%20aerial%20view_tcm52-402829.jpg

    true

    600

    Chris Richards

    A rendering of the play yard.

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    600

    Chris Richards

    The play yard plan.

Steve James, AIA, led a panel at the 2013 International Builders’ Show that offered tips on transforming even ordinary outdoor areas like driveways and sidewalks into special places. James is a principal at DTJ Design in Boulder, Colo., a firm that does residential architecture, community planning, and landscape architecture. James’ approach is to integrate the landscape with the house design and not limit that philosophy to large chunks of space, but every spot where a building connects to the outside. He says he strives to bring a resort atmosphere into his clients’ daily lifestyle.

James adds that exterior living and entertaining spaces are more important now because houses tend to consume greater portions of their lots, so traditional yards are becoming less common. That philosophy also expands inside where James recommends continuing exterior finishes into interior rooms to strengthen indoor-outdoor connections. Natural materials, daylight, and outdoor furniture used inside are other ways to blur the lines between inside and out. James shared several specific techniques for creating a house that offers relaxing, special spaces where homeowners can enjoy the soothing effects of nature in different ways. Below are his suggestions along with a slideshow of past winners in the outdoor spaces category of the Custom Home Design Awards to demonstrate how James ideas can be realized.

  • Courtyards—James looks for any opportunity to create a courtyard whether the project involves a large compound that wraps around an inviting exterior gathering space to dense urban infill sites where a pocket courtyard works to bring natural light deep into a home and presents a private outdoor space for occupants. 
  • Driveways and entryways—Making the most of walkways, driveways, or stairs that lead to the house not only adds curb appeal, but can generate friendlier relations with neighbors. It also turns otherwise unused and sometimes unattractive necessities like the driveway into a functional exterior room. James likes to make these often neglected spaces exciting by creating “a magical journey to the door” through the use of elongated steps that can double as seating, thoughtful plantings that reveal the path slowly, splashes of color, secret nooks, and unexpected but easy to navigate twists and turns. He also suggests pushing the garage either closer to or further away from the street and blending it into other hardscapes between the street and house.
  • One-room deep floor plans—Integrating outdoor spaces into the house starts with the floor plan says James. Most of his designs feature multiple spaces that enjoy two exposures to daylight and he likes to capture corner views whenever possible. His inspiration originated with the Eichler houses in southern California and even working in a cold-weather climate, James incorporates as many windows and glass walls as possible. 
  • A balance of hard and softscapes—James says hardscaped outdoor spaces provide a level of comfort and low-maintenance that means they will be used more often, but a healthy dose of plants and gardens complements those exterior rooms with the serenity of nature.
  • Climate control—“Outdoor rooms furnished with an indoor attitude,” is how James describes his philosophy on how to make an exterior space functional and comfortable year-round. He likes to add fireplaces, especially ones that double as stoves, big fans, artificial lighting, and luxurious cozy furniture to outdoor rooms.
  • Reserve budget for bridge spaces—Those moments of moving from inside to out or vice versa often get overlooked or cut when a project runs over budget James explains. He feels that how someone enters a house or the way an interior room opens up to the outside can be the difference between an outdoor area being used every day or not at all.