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.