Page B1.1 . 11 October 2000                     
ArchitectureWeek - Building Department



Wood in the Landscape : Decks Part I

by Daniel Winterbottom

"Wood brings us back to roots of our building heritage," says Seattle landscape architect Daniel Winterbottom. "The differing grains, colors, and expressions inherent in the material give wood a warm lively quality found in few other materials."

Winterbottom has written a new book, "Wood in the Landscape: A Practical Guide to Specification and Design." This book goes beyond the how-to books displayed in hardware stores, with a history of the craft, general principles of construction, and pointers for avoiding common problems. Excerpted here with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, "Wood in the Landscape" serves as both technical manual and design inspiration.

This article is the first in a five-part series.

Origins of Wood Decks

The prevalence of wood decks, attached to, or independent of the house is a relatively recent phenomenon in western cultures. Because wood was used for many other purposes—fuel, railroad and bridge construction—paved patios, dirt yards, and formal lawns were common for gathering areas, while wood was limited to the house or fence construction.

The closest forerunner of the deck may be the expansive porches found in the southern or Florida style of housing. Variations of the type can be found in the screen porches of New England, in the verandahs of the grand antebellum mansions of the south, and in the expansive roofed front porches of plantation style houses found in the southeastern Gulf States and Caribbean.

The historic use of decks in China and Japan can be traced back hundreds of years. In the Chinese garden, a miniature representation of nature with symbolic lakes, mountains, and trees is viewed from an open wood-decked pavilion.



ArchWeek Photo

A deck with railings, arbor, and planter boxes illustrates an integrated approach to this structure.
Photo: Daniel Winterbottom

ArchWeek Photo

A small circular deck with bent decking members and an integrated overhead trellis provides a good example of the flexibility inherent in the materials. This was built by a University of Washington design/build studio, Steve Badanes, instructor.
Photo: Daniel Winterbottom


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