The challenge was to add a new construction with a contemporary design that would fit with the aesthetic of the historic estate. Poteet designed the 16 x 32 foot pavilion of yellow cedar with bronze screening, which stands out for its elegant simplicity. “The concept is that the pavilion is abstract enough to be considered a landscape element,” says Poteet. “In this way it does not compete with the historic house or blur the lines between what is new and what is old. This concept is well accepted in Europe, where very abstract modern additions are successfully grafted onto historic homes.”

The simple design and unobtrusive neutral palette allows the pavilion to interact with the adjacent outbuildings from earlier eras that sit on the other side of the fence. “I’m pleased with how well our contribution engages in a dialog with these older structures,” says Poteet. Inside, the pavilion offers a minimalist approach with ample space for the family to spend time outdoors in complete comfort. Amenities include ceiling fans, a kitchen, wet bar, flat screen, a flexible seating area and a wood-burning fireplace made from unfinished, hard-troweled plaster, waxed for protection. The bar is made from the same Garapa wood as the deck around the pool.

The pavilion cantilevers two feet over the far edge of the pool, and a large, central screened panel slides to the side to give direct access to the water. “The rectangular pool and the round spa — separate but connected by a runnel — were integral parts of our overall design plan. The pool and the pavilion have the same dimensions, just rotated 90 degrees. The particular challenge the owners gave us was to create a screened pavilion sealed against the vicious mosquitos of South Texas, which could also be occasionally opened directly to the pool. We wanted this door to be largely invisible when not in use, which was most of the time. It also had to be easy enough for a small child to operate. We spent countless hours researching hardware options and design ideas to make this happen.”

The goal of the design was to use the fewest components and materials possible for a clean, uncluttered look and a fresh, open feel. The project’s neutral palette is designed to change over time as the unfinished timber weathers and grays and the bronze screen darkens and becomes more transparent.  Adjacent to the pavilion is a 14 x 14 foot space which houses the kitchen, plumbing and serves as a garden shed and bicycle storage room. On top is a green roof filled with native herbs and plants that includes a variety of agaves which stand out with their spiky, sculptural shapes and various colors. The roof features integral irrigation so constant maintenance is not required, only periodic clean up. 

Next to the storage section is a cylindrical outdoor shower, painted blue and white and reminiscent of a vintage beach cabin. The muted tones of the building allow the blue of the pool and the many green hues of the landscaping and rooftop garden to be the main source of color for a very natural look.

From start to finish, the project took about nine months to complete. Poteet and team have a strong relationship with these clients, and have enjoyed working with them in a number of projects. “They understand modern design, but also always put us through our paces on the functional requirements of any space we design for them,” says Poteet. “At the end of the day, the success of the pavilion is how well it functions for them in multiple formats — parties, family dinners, breezy afternoons by the pool — rather than its abstract design. I think we accomplished everything we set out to do.”

 ARCHITECT   Poteet Architects


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