Astounding architecture comes in many shapes and sizes and responds to a wide array of needs. When your garden needs a pool and garden pavilion, inspiration helps you decide the best solutions, but site-specific challenges make the results worthwhile. Take for example the Nevis Pool and Garden Pavilion in Washington DC – a contemporary garden addition that provides a threshold between the perfectly manicured man-made landscape and adjacent wilderness of the woodland. Imagined by Robert M. Gurney as a modern duo reinforcing the comfort of the main house, the pool and pavilion offer a serene environment for relaxation and entertaining.
Placed at the limit defined by mature trees, the glass and stone pavilion composes a seamless connection to the surroundings via frameless corner glass walls and five steel-framed glass doors flooding the exquisite interior with light. An enclosed dry-stacked slate wall and mahogany space topped off with a low-pitched stainless steel roof shelters an elegant display of materials and furnishings. Heated blue stone floors opposing Douglas-fir ceilings capture the warmth provided by the large Rumford fireplace, contrasting with the airiness of the surrounding geometric landscape. What would be the first thing you would do if owning this exceptional backyard?
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.
What is new and exciting now can quickly begin to look tired and out of fashion, so the best buildings don’t just consider what will be interesting to look at now, but also how it might look to people in five, fifty or even a hundred years’ time. 2013’s hotly contested RIBA Stirling Prize went to Witherford Watson Mann Architects for their work on Astley Castle, Warwickshire. In what RIBA Past President Stephen Hodder has described as an extreme retrofit, the project essentially saw a new building inserted subtly into the heart of the old, with a new, two storey residence now hidden within the sandstone walls of the ruins of this medieval castle, to be used as a holiday home for up to eight guests