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Low Country Screens

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Project Description

2006 RADA
Architectural Design Detail / Merit

Having lived through Hurricane Hugo, this Charleston, S.C., homeowner wanted to make sure his new house could survive anything future hurricanes could throw at it. Traditional wood shutters didn't fit the bill physically or aesthetically, so Frank Harmon, FAIA, called in his favorite metalsmith, Christian Karkow, to help create a “21st century response to a 500-year-old low-country problem.” The result: 10 pivoting metal screens that protect the house from flying debris and scorching heat while maintaining views and inviting only gentle cool “breezes.”

The screen infill material is an off-the-shelf industrial grating found in the McNichols catalog. The custom framing was bolted together in pieces so the 800-pound sections could be assembled on site. Karkow counterbalanced the screens so precisely that a child can open or close them with ease. Custom locks keep the shutters stationary in either horizontal or vertical position—even in hurricane-force winds.

The jury lauded Harmon's “reinterpretation of the ubiquitous aesthetic of shutters.” Harmon, in turn, praises his metalsmith for collaborating on a solution that's economical, functional, and cool—in every sense of the word.
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