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Van Sweden Residence

Sorg And Associates, P.C., Sorg And Associates

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  • General Contractor: Andy Coleman
  • Landscape Architect: James van Sweden
  • Robert Lautman

Project Status



3,200 sq. feet

Construction Cost


Room or Space


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Project Description

2003 RADA
Custom / 2.000 To 3,500 Square Feet Or Less/Merit

When Suman Sorg began designing a country retreat for a noted landscape architect, she focused on garden walls: "They're full of mystery, since you can't see what's behind them, and over time they turn into living, vertical gardens themselves."

A garden wall became the heart of the minimalist van Sweden residence on the Chesapeake Bay. "It's a concrete block structure that follows the edges of the house, goes right through and pokes out the other side on a very simple path," says Sorg. The exterior of the wall is painted and punctuated by marine plywood panels divided with aluminum Z-strips, chosen for practicality and affordability.

To reduce the visual weight of the concrete, Sorg elevated the house and surrounded it with 4-foot-wide decks that create the illusion the structure is floating above surrounding grassland. With its earthy materials, flat overhanging roof, and bands of windows, the building is meant to evoke an early form of Modernism, says Sorg.

The judges marveled at her vision, calling it sophisticated, clean, and "absolutely houselike."
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