Hidden Harbor Residence

Architect: Solstice Architects  I  General Contractor: Voigt Brothers Construction  I  Photography: Greg Wilson

Siesta Key, FL

Some of the most successful project result when the design of the site and the landscape, along with the building design and the owner’s end-goal are considered as one collaborative effort, rather than separate disciplines. At the Thirty Oaks Residence, the landscape architect shaped the spaces within the site around the forms of the modern home, emphasizing the link between the interior and the outdoor living spaces. The set the stage for a comfortable and elegant entertainment space for the owners to entertain friends and family.

While the organization of the site plan responds to that of the home, the landscape design was inspired by the mature live oaks that distinguish the site, and also represent a trace of the tropical hardwood hammock that once defined the place. The wide, dense canopies diffuse the intense sun and cast a filtered light on the ground plan, providing a moisture-laden habitat for the ferns, air plants, and other sub-tropical species to thrive. Tall native sabal palms – curved to weave into the vertical section established by the oaks – were sited to look as if they’d grown naturally in this place. An array of wart ferns, philodendrons, silver saw palmettos and a mix of bromeliads fill the planting areas along the pathways that allow full access to all areas of the site. Other native and Florida-friendly palm and herbaceous species were added to establish a harmony with the existing canopy with a balance of textures, scales, and colors.

The horizontal hardscape components – the entry drive, pathways, and pool deck area – link the order established by the modern house to the organic nature of the planting. The extent of each area of hardscape was carefully considered, not just from an experiential perspective, but also with respect to existing root zones and controlling runoff generated by paved surfaces. The vertical components then, including a series of privacy walls, layer with the vertical screens of oaks, palms, and understory planting. Even the unseen elements were carefully considered for their potential impact; for example, the footer of the privacy wall was designed in segments to allow existing roots to remain in-tact and undisturbed.

While the design of the front of the site emphasizes a layered progression, with the arrival at the front door clearly distinguished from the public realm of the street, it is a transition space. Between the hardscape and the house water is used as an architectural element, in a linear koi pond set under the overhang that carries over from the front stoop. The reflection of the water’s movement, and the saturated color of the koi themselves add a layer to the perceptual experience of this entry sequence.

In contrast to the transitional space of the entry sequence, the pool deck, along with the layers of planting and accent lighting, is a place that invites the residents to pause and take in the amenity of the waterfront site. The custom shell-stone pavers are in the tradition of Florida shell-top concrete and include a blue glass aggregate to reflect the tone of the evening light and the waterfront site.