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The compound idea.

Wrapping a house around a garden court is not a new idea, but the two houses shown on these four pages demonstrate how the idea can be adapted for contemporary living.

Both structures form compounds that focus the house inwardly. Deep in the woods in Washington, a grassy rectangle creates a welcome sunny spot amid the shadows. In Albuquerque, a sheltered swimming pool becomes the central element in a house that has three courts.

Both houses were winners in the 1985-86 Western Home Awards competition co-sponsored by the American Institute of Architects and Sunset Magazine.

The site was a challenge: a 100-foot round lot in a grove of madrone, cedar, and fir up to 120 feet tall. The clients wanted to get as much sunlight into the house as possible, but they were restricted from cutting down any trees outside the circle.

This seemingly impossible task was accomplished with the courtyard plan sketched at left. It introduced enough open space at the center of the lot, on Bainbridge Island, Washington, to give the sun a clear path over the treetops to walls and windows facing a lawn.

In the midst of the grove, architect James Cutler made the focall point of the house a courtyard with the billiard-table-perfect lawn pictured here. He treated the courtyard like an inside space, with surrounding walls, windows, and door openings ample enough to agree with the scale of this 30- by 50-foot "room."

Think of the courtyard walls as the basic structure, with the shed shapes of the house attached to it. This approach is seen most vividly in the treatment of the entry porch and the walls beside the entry path, and in the exposed inside beams; note how they attach to the court walls.

In the mirror-image design, mock window opening on one side are in perfect scale with their glazed counterparts on the opposite side--as if the glass there was simply an afterthought.

Inside, the house is really one large L-shaped space, with kitchen and living-dining areas wrapping around the north corner. This public space is a double-height shed. The two-story wing has the two children's rooms and their play area below, a master bedroom above.

The garage, with a workshop overhead, backs the third wall of the enclosure.

As you drive up the entry road to this Albuquerque house, you see a north-facing stucco wall that stretches a full 190 feet, creating a powerful horizontal stripe across the landscape. It's interrupted only by a patio sheltered by a corrugated steel gable roof and a drive-through auto court entry that penetrates the far right end of the wall.

Once you've parked, a steel gate leads you to the entry court. You cross the court and go through a two-door air-lock to enter a brick-floored solarium hall that runs the length of the house.

The living room and a den off the hall look to the south through a series of glass doors and windows. (The hall forms the northern side of the central compound; an open trellis on the opposite side of the pool defines the southern border.)

The kitchen and dining wing intersects both indoor and outdoor corridors to establish the west border. To complete the compound, a two-story bedroom wing--parents upstairs, children below--runs along the house's eastern limit.

As the diagram shows, this linear configuration creates a kind of tic-tac-toe grid with the pool in the center square. Cupping the house around the pool creates a private, wind-sheltered climate for the watery focal point.

The house was designed by Antoine Predock Architect of Albuquerque.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:award-winning houses
Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1985
Words:595
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