Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Current Projects: The Modern Rain Garden

Perspective - Looking North
Recognizing the potential to capture water on site, the rain garden is at the heart of the design for this backyard.  Rainwater on site is gathered from rain gutters and released through an intricate series of stone runnels and scuppers, ultimately being released into a formalized sedge garden. 

Sketch - Stormwater Scupper and Stone Runnel
Serving as an effective way to manage stormwater, the rain garden provides visual interest while also tying the various materials and areas of the garden together.   Other areas of the garden include a tea house (formally a shed), a private patio, IPE wood, tiered deck and an entertaining patio.

In collaboration with Pistils Landscape Design, the first phase of installation has just been completed. 

Lawn At Deck Steps

Meeting of Materials - Deck/Concrete Steps at Lawn

First Phase Of Construction

Monday, February 1, 2010

Current Projects: RURALSTOP

RURALSTOP is a temporary landscape/art installation at the corner of Interstate and Killingsworth streets in North Portland. Currently a vacant lot, RURALSTOP is a response to the community’s ongoing efforts to see improvements to the neighborhood’s largest, highly-visible vacant lot. Located at the intersection of two well-used public transportation systems, RURALSTOP is envisioned as a rural “bus stop” – an alternative to the everyday, sometimes mundane, bus and light rail shelters of the city.

RURALSTOP introduces aspects of the country vernacular into the city – intermixing elements of urban & rural to highlight their connections and interdependence. Hay bales serve as versatile seating, while corn planting(rural) and ornamental grasses (urban) are woven together to frame the edges of the site. A newspaper bin completes the installation – mirroring typical bus stops of the area.

Eco-friendly materials are envisioned for this installation - chosen such that they can be recycled and/or easily integrated into the site upon construction of the Killingsworth Station.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Current Projects: A Study In Converting A Pool To A Koi Pond

Sometimes, particularly in the Northwest, outdoor swimming pools just don't get much use.   The client for this West Linn project had this realization after years passed with very little backstrokes or summer pool parties being hosted.

Existing Pool

With the pool and surrounding decks in decay, a new design was needed that realized the needs of the client while also taking into account the costs and logistics of removing and/or retrofitting the existing pool. 

Given the client's love for Koi ponds, research was done that looked into the technical and logistical aspects of retrofitting a full-size pool into a habitat for fish and native water flora.

Ultimately, it was determined, that with the right treatment and preparation, a portion of the swimming pool could be renovated into a successful koi pond habitat. 

Rather than investing in an expensive filtration device, a biofiltration system was recommended - combining the natural filtration properties of native water plants in combination with minimal, easy to maintain filtration system.  In simple terms, water is pumped to a  filter housed above a naturalistic water feature.  The water is percolated up through gravel and filtering plants, then sent back to the pond via a rock-filled "streambed".   Sending water down this stream also acts to efficiently aerate the pond while minimizing stagnant water - an often hospitable environment for mosquitos. 

For further discussion and studies on conversion of swimming pools to ponds click here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Current Projects: The Shift House

The Shift House demonstrates a radical departure from the way we approach energy efficiency and sustainability in new home construction.

Through the innovative use of materials and intimate understanding of site conditions, the architects at
Root Design Build are striving to build one of the only true passive houses in the United States.
In approaching the landscape design for the Shift House, Stemmler Design also looks to demonstrate a "shift" from the status quo - departing from the template of typical suburban development to reveal a landscape that blurs the boundary between domestic life and the natural surroundings. In doing so, the landscape unveils the beauty and intrinsic value of local ecology within the context of our every day lives.

Situated atop the Columbia River Basin, the site is considered part of the Oak/Conifer Eastern Cascades Columbia Foothills ecoregion - an ecoregion defined by its tremendous diversity and broad mosaic of vegetation types.

Stemmler Design looked to the meadows of this particular ecoregion as the major unifying design theme for the entire site. Working with native plant specialists at Milestone Nursery, such plant species as Penstemon Richardsonii, Coreopsis atkinsoniana, Koeleria cristata compose a meadow that is woven throughout the site. Nuances in this meadow change in response to microclimate considerations and demands.

Together with recycled, eco-friendly materials, the landscape provides all the opportunities associated with typical domestic life (barbeques, get-togethers, gardening, miscellaneous outdoor activities) while also providing important ecological function, including habitat for a spectrum of birds, butterflies, and various other local flora and fauna.

Check out the Shift House in the October '09 issue of Dwell Magazine.