Page H1 . 01 January 2003                     
ArchitectureWeek - Patterns of Home
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    Patterns of Home
    Pattern One — Inhabiting the Site : A Home in Nature

    ArchWeek Photo

    On this dramatic hilltop site, sturdy rock walls grow up out of the ground, anchoring the house to nature. Design by Lake/Flato Architects, Inc.
    Photo: David Duncan Livingston


    A home needs to have a relationship with nature. In the suburbs or in the country, there's plenty of opportunity to interweave views, sun, and plantings with the buildings to achieve a comfortable balance. This can be done by extending the arms of the house out into the future garden.

    On sites with limited views, sun, or space for gardens, it's necessary to invite nature into the house, by draping the building with planted trellises and flower boxes, by creating interior window wells, or by planning courts for the penetration of light and air into the heart of the building. The house creates a habitat for nature to grow into our lives, and the plantings enrich and soften the buildings.

    Some sites are dominated by nature, with dizzying views, rushing water, or bracing sea breezes. Human nature being what it is, we tend not to flee from this power but instead to build securely and then provide lookouts and pathways that allow us to venture into the very teeth of the wildness. For these sites, the buildings enrich and soften raw nature.

    In all three cases, the attempt is to strongly knit house with the site so that the people who live there will be encouraged to experience nature as deeply and confidently as possible.

    ArchWeek Photo

    Invite nature into the house.
    Image: Taunton Press

    ArchWeek Photo

    This house in northern California, by Cass Calder Smith Architecture, is placed just close enough to the oak trees that they become a part of daily living.
    Photo: David Duncan Livingston

    ArchWeek Photo

    The building shapes an inviting south-facing outdoor space.
    Image: Taunton Press

    ArchWeek Photo

    Careful placement in regard to neighboring buildings allows residents to have both private yards and to share the visual use of each other's outdoor spaces.
    Image: Taunton Press

    ArchWeek Photo

    Extend the buildings out into the sun and trees.
    Image: Taunton Press

    Click on thumbnail images to view full-size pictures.




    Part of the ArchitectureWeek Patterns series. Text and images excerpted with permission from Patterns of Home: The Ten Essentials of Enduring Design by Max Jacobson, Murray Silverstein, and Barbara Winslow, copyright © 2002 The Taunton Press, Inc. The book is available from The Taunton Press and at

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