2013 Awards

Design: Residential, Single Family Home

Merit Award

Palo Alto Residence
Palo Alto, CA
Thiulot Associates
Lead Designer: Stefan Thuilot
Associates: Alan Dixon, Nathan Pepple and Kimberly Yeo
Client: Anonymous

At night the fire pit marks the center of the property with the flickering flames that are seen from the kitchen, family room and studio. The warm light radiates to the nearby benches extending the use of the garden on cooler nights.
Bands of custom cut bluestone run perpendicular to the arching lines of the garden and frame the two corner destination areas. The shape of the bluestone pieces playfully repeat the geometry of the fire pit walls.
At the end of the permeable driveway a light colored stucco wall inserts into steel fencing. The light green bamboo provides a dramatic background. The bars of the patina stainless steel gate align with the openings of the fence.
Another view toward the outdoor kitchen and house.
Rhythmic concrete stepping stones along the perimeter of the raised meadow planting.
The spectacular bark of the Acer griseum trees is orchestrated with the dark brown of the redwood fencing and the silvery grey of the pittosporum.
Under the lush green canopy of the surrounding trees, the coppery bark of the Acer griseum trees provides contrast, scale and verticality. The trees are spectacular at night once up lit.
Shadow play of the pistache tree onto the granite rock surface.
The arcs of the Fibonacci spiral gesture the generosity throughout the garden. The reddish brown of the corten steel, wooden benches and the red barked Acer griseum trees hold steady course alongside the lines of the spiral.
Four by five feet in size, the egg shaped giant fire pit mimics the granite rock of the central gathering area. Ample left over granite slabs from the house construction were utilized to build up the seat height element layer by layer.
The arching slotted hardwood benches embrace the dark green giant fire bowl that is positioned at the center of the Fibonacci spiral. The horizontality of the giant slabs are in tune with the wooden fencing.
Site Plan

This elegant, tranquil garden emerged out of strict design constraints. The layout of the garden and house is based on the Fibonacci spiral, which also became the backbone of the landscape. The garden, featuring a controlled palette and a limited amount of materials, provides a calm counterpoint to the dense and complex volumes of the residence while facilitating mixed needs for outdoor entertaining. The muted color palette of green and red tones maintains the contemplative mood, warming the silvery steel elements and sand-colored paving areas throughout the garden. A grey water system reduces overall water use, and unique pervious paving allows water to filter directly into the ground. Throughout, paved surfaces are minimized. This easily maintained garden hosts multiple uses throughout the day and night, year round, within an overall experience of a tranquil retreat. Out of strict limitations this design met the challenge of creating a graceful, harmonious space.