Outdoor Design: Save that Tree!
Have Your Deck and Big Tree, Too — Build Around it for an Exceptional Living Space
Houzz Contributor. I am an architect and writer living in New York City. I have Bachelor of Architecture and Master in Urban Planning degrees, and over ten years experience in architectural practice, split between Chicago and NYC. Currently I'm focused on writing and online pursuits. My daily blog can be found at http://archidose.blogspot.com
Houzz Contributor. I am an architect and writer living in New York City.... More »
As the temperature rises, so does the desire to spend more time outside. Two of the best elements that make for the most enjoyment outdoors, one natural and one architectural, are trees and decks. The former provides shade and a sense of intimacy, while the latter creates a surface for sitting and relaxing. The combination of the two isn't rare, but when a deck actually wraps around a tree — in many cases to preserve it — it's quite an exceptional situation. The following examples highlight some decks that save trees and create unique outdoor spaces in the process.
This house in Palo Alto, California is planned in a way to preserve and appreciate two large oak trees (more than 150 years old) on the site. The one on the right rises from the deck towards the house.
The importance of the tree is reinforced by the articulation of the deck in Sagan / Piechota's design. Seating is split into two zones, with a table and chairs by the house and fixed benches along the edge of the deck.
For this house in Austin, Texas architects Sago International designed the whole project around a large existing tree. Walls, roof, and deck wrap around the tree, inflecting to the different branches. Next, a view from farther away ...
... shows how the tree seems to be inserted into the corner of the house. The exterior space created by the concrete walls, deck and tree is quite intimate; it's a good deal of shade in the hot Texas sun.
Also in Texas is this house featured previously in my ideabook on reinforced concrete. The tall wall of concrete next to the entry is softened by the tall tree that rises from the wood walkway. The approach to the house wouldn't be nearly as pleasurable without the tree.
Seating is also integrated into this deck that wraps a large oak tree. Frederick + Frederick Architects point out an important issue that extends beyond the deck, to the house itself: timber pile foundations were inserted in holes between the roots to support the building. Considering that tree roots grow horizontally, preserving one within a deck means dealing with the root system below grade with some structural creativity. This is one way of doing it (the first example actually bridges over the roots at grade).
This deck is elevated so much above the ground that it's like a walkway in the trees. Note the bench wrapping the large tree in the distance ...
This tree, seen from the opposite direction as in the previous photo, is the node for a deck that travels in different directions and connects above and below. The deck bows out around the tree to allow for the seating around the trunk.
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Ideabook published on May 11, 2011.
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