Set in a wooded, 7-acre site above Cedar Creek Lake, this series of buildings are weaved discreetly below the tree line and take advantage of commanding views of the surrounding lake. The collaborative effort between design team and client transformed a long-held family property at into a legacy weekend destination where the harmony between built structure and site results in a completed project that feels as if it has been in situ for years. This master plan addressed the project from the street to the lake in helping to site the house, pavilion, tennis court, and large garage barn amongst a high canopy of existing loblolly pine trees and live oaks. The primary residence is carefully slipped into a tall grove of mature pine and oak trees, to assist in establishing this dynamic of minimizing tree loss and maximizing views to the lake beyond. The pine trees on the property are not only majestic, but were planted by the client as a young boy. A simple and restrained materials palette of wood, stone, concrete, and weathered steel are used throughout the project, reflecting the native environment.
The entry sequence from a rural country road begins through a weathered steel plate gate and screen. A waterjet cut barcode in the gate signifies the property with the actual family moniker bestowed upon the site. The gate slides open to reveal a 350-foot long stone boulder wall that emerges from the earth to create an axial spine that terminates at the residence beyond. Proceeding down the cobblestone driveway toward a permeable gravel motor court, the stone wall seems to grow as the elevation of the drive falls. Strategic openings in the wall along the route allow mature existing trees to penetrate the vertical plane, and reveals the home and landscape beyond. Opposite the wall, allée elms reinforce the linearity of the entry procession and provide a buffer to the openness of the site beyond.
As the battered stone wall approaches its terminus at the residence, the focus of its function shifts to the opposite side where it creates a defining backdrop for a private, sunken outdoor living room. A cantilevered concrete plinth extends from the wall, serving as the fireplace hearth. Further definition and access to the sunken space is provided by sodded turf treads held by weathered steel risers that lead from the residence beyond. The floor in the sunken room is a clean, permeable gravel surface, and is furnished with a teak seating arrangement opposite the fire element.
The gravel motor court opposite the sunken room along the stone wall is defined on its far side by a pavilion that serves as both a carport and guest quarters. Fronting the pavilion’s opposite side, a regulation bocce ball court cuts into the grade toward the tennis court. Board-formed concrete walls and weathered steel risers with sodded turf treads surround the bocce court and further expand the use of this area screened by large sweet olive shrubs fronted with river birch trees under-planted with Chinese indigo. Views toward the lake at the opposite end of the court are framed by existing pine trees with the natural slope of the site extending towards the water’s edge. Details include a crushed oyster shell surface and cantilevered steel armatures above that carry swagged festoon lighting, creating an intimate nighttime experience. Adjacent to the tennis court the large garage barn effectively becomes a vegetated backdrop through use of vine covered green screen solution. Native plantings and partial reforestation of native trees and slash pine trees throughout existing and re-designed spaces further serve to enhance the site and insure its qualities and health for generations to come.