Long unhappy with his concrete slab back deck, our friend and client had invested a lot of time in his backyard, hanging lights, planting climbing vines, placing rocks and picking up dog poop. Yet he couldn’t avoid looking at the eyesore concrete pad that a previous owner had ill-advisedly sought to ‘wrap’ around a tree well.
In our first design meeting over beers, he and I decided he ought to follow other lines established in the yard to re-define the back edge of concrete. Mocking it up with some sidewalk chalk and spare gravel, we decided the first step in any positive design intervention would be to get someone to “zip” the back edge off with a concrete saw. An immediate success, eliminating his slab’s awkward backside had immediately improved the space and set us up to design and build the shade structure he’d been imagining over every morning cup of coffee since he and his family had moved in.
Initially, I proposed a ranch minimal structure with super thin oil pipe columns and folded cattle panel triangular trellis panels with 3 feet in the gravel and 1 on the pad. Word came back that they were thinking something a little woodier and more polite. So I came up with several typical details that would integrate steel and cedar.
The final design would be characterized by the interaction of the two materials, especially in the flitch columns which sandwiched steel flat bar between cedar 2x6s. While giving the clients what they wanted in terms of a beefier column profile and a more hand-friendly outer material, this column design came with a number of architectonic benefits: the sandwiched flat bar could be mounted directly to the anchored weld baseplate, receive tabs to mount the floating benches and receive the oil pipe bow trusses in a saddle detail that I’m proud of. I also really love the way that the flitch columns touch the ground.
We couldn’t be happier with the final product. The pitch of its trellis roof follows the 2:12 slope of the houses roof (as do the tops of the aforementioned saddles…) while obscuring a relatively unsightly bay window roof protrusion. Whenever the wisteria gets going, we’ll be golden at golden hour.
TLDR: Built a nice trellis shade structure with floating benches. Design feedback from MTG1 lead to immediate results. Surprisingly enough, client feedback makes projects stronger. <3 STEEL <3 CEDAR <3 TEXAS