A Porch Makes Contemporary Connections.
The owners of this '50s-era Prairie-inspired home in Upper Arlington, Ohio, didn't want “‘your father's Olds' kind of screen porch,” says architect Ruth Gless. They insisted on a screen porch that would enhance the Modern claims of their house in both design and materials and that would integrate with the clean simplicity of their renewed landscaping.
The porch does that and more. A contemporary composition of ground-face block, ipé, steel, metal-coated screening, and concrete, the porch is elegantly Modern and deceptively simple. Strategically located block walls interlock with the ipé-framed screening and help support the exposed ipé ceiling while discreetly shielding the porch from the neighbor's yard to the east. “We wanted to use the structure to create opaque walls, and concrete block made sense,” explains project designer Joe Moss. “That gave us the freedom to use more screening devices.” To the west, the concrete block chimney of a custom, two-sided fireplace makes the porch and adjacent patio usable well into the spring and fall.
When the weather's fine, the porch bridges the divide between inside and out. Its location off the dining room allows the owners to open sliding doors, bringing fresh air in and extending their living area into the backyard. The concrete porch floor sits on a block plinth that raises it to the level of the house. A few steps down, the patio smoothes the transition from the porch to the softer landscaped area beyond.
Unlike most screen porches, this one doesn't prevent daylight from reaching the home's interior. The porch attaches to the house with a short connector that lets light flow in from both sides and a sloped glass roof above. That sloped glass directs rain into a steel beam formed into a scupper. From there the water drops into a steel collector bowl poised at one end of a long, narrow concrete trough. This backyard water feature extends across the yard to a small Japanese garden and creates a pleasing view from the living room windows. Gold dust stones surround the trough and Mexican river stones line the trough bottom.
The interplay of porch, hardscape, waterscape, and landscape was carried out with precision and cohesion, says landscape architect Jane Amidon, in order to fulfill the clients' aesthetic and functional requirements: clean simple geometries, a place for their children to play now, and a porch and yard that will be enjoyable well after they're grown.