This sleek outdoor escape appears light and airy, but its design DNA is all concrete, hi-tech glass, and steel.
Written by Claire Butwinick Photographed by Christopher Dibble
Originally published May 2019
Heavy steel and thick concrete aren’t the first materials you’d think to find in an airy residential pavilion, but the designers at Drake’s 7 Dees took this scheme, found throughout a modern house in Vancouver, Washington, and created a bright, canopied backyard oasis meant to withstand the wet, dreary winters of the Pacific Northwest.
Inspired by the residence’s polished concrete floors, white walls, and sprawling glass windows, Christopher Dara, a former designer at Drake’s 7 Dees, designed the pavilion as a visual connection to the house, while also giving the homeowners a refined and open environment for outdoor entertaining.
“We thought that it should serve as an additional room for the house,” Dara says, “[so] we extrapolated the materials of the house, but we wanted it to be light, not heavy.”
The pavilion is a temptingly breezy and light-filled place to gather in the summer, but it was designed to be enjoyed all year round. To ensure durability, Dara teamed up with geoengineers from SFA Design Group to install weather-resistant frosted 3form glass ceiling panels. These hi-tech panels are typically used in southern climates but SFA Design Group was able to recalculate their design to withstand northern winds and snow while still letting in natural light from above. The team also put the roof on a slight slope to help drain rain and snow away from the home.
Supporting the 3form glass ceiling, and upholding the pavilion’s structure, are slender white powder-coated steel panels. Dara says that he worked with the geoengineers to custom design the panels to be as thin as possible with strategic gaps to let in natural light and valley winds. The clean lines in this design add sophistication to the structure without overshadowing the surrounding natural landscape.
“We ended up going with metal for its aesthetic,” he says. “We wanted it to feel light and airy, and we were able to achieve that through steel. If we used wood we would have a lot more posts and you would be able to see the grain. Steel is sleek and it lends its self to the modern home.”
Whether the homeowners are basking in the summer light beaming from the glass canopy or curling up next to the glass fireplace in the winter, Dara says that this space softens the transition from the sleek modern home to the surrounding backyard.