Simple distinctions between the indoors and outdoors can be synthetic.
What makes up a room has dozens of repetitions made up of an infinite range of flavors and qualities.
“Inside” and “outside” are best characterized (and understood) as ends of a spectrum in the relationship between structure and landscape.
A room can nestle in the terrain or hover over it. It can have walls and no roof or a roof and no walls. An allee of trees makes a leaf-covered room. Windows, entryways, breezeways, foyers, porches, patios, decks, courtyards, and thresholds of all kinds: such zones need not be mundane.
With careful consideration, they become active, fluid, and complex -- an opportunity of the users to tune spaces to their needs, sensibilities, and surroundings.
Balance between shelter and exposure is key to integrating indoor and outdoor space. Here are a couple of tips on how to achieve that balance:
- Seize the outdoors from within.The glass surrounding a living area melts away to let the landscape rush in, transforming a traditional room with a view into a complex space where the room is the view.
A shallow balcony functions as an intermediary zone between structure and nature, accessed by doors located on the side to maintain the immaterially of the frontal wall window.
This makes it easy to project yourself visually to occupy the exterior space, even if you choose to stay inside.
- Use wood to merge inside and out. A unified wood palette on walls and floors meld a screened porch with scenery beyond. Modest windows that emphasize the interior and frame the exterior create a visual connection between building material and its natural source.
- Flip expectations of defined space. Oversize sliding doorsdematerialize an interior flanked by crisp landscaping. Dense plantings edge the gravel floor of a courtyard, while a distant wall of foliage brackets an expansive lawn. The contrast makes a dining area seem more like an interstitial opening between outdoor rooms.
- Deliver visitors from front yard to back. A floor plan can slip through a house, delivering visitors from front yard to back. Imagine a bluestone surface that travels from outside to inside and back out again, where views open up to the Pacific Ocean.
- Embrace the opposites. Reflective materials animate and enlarge an intimate space. Solid forms float and multiply in a sea of glossiness. With coy liberation, a single transparent band can puncture the sense of enclosure and bring in the landscape.
- Subvert the relationship between floor plane and ground plane. Generous windows and custom furniture will nestle a porch in a sloping site. Sitting in such a room is sitting in the landscape itself.
- Signal entry with thresholds. A shade structure forms an eternal foyer that invites a moment of pause and frames a view of the door. With a sense of anticipation, the experience of the house starts well before the user walks inside.
A spectrum between inside and out works in tandem with a spectrum of mood. Different kinds of space provide opportunities to search out surroundings to either reinforce or transform a state of mind.
Spatial symmetry is in direct conflict with the complexity of everyday life. Perhaps that’s what makes life so interesting!