Project's Summary

The Garden Pavilion project, designed by the Robert Edson Swain Architecture + Design architectural studio, is a stunning retreat and gathering pavilion nestled into the hillside on the western slope of upper Queen Anne hill. This sculptural landscape element was carefully envisioned to harmonize with the changing seasons and adapt to varying weather conditions. Inspired by the breathtaking prospects of Elliott Bay, Magnolia, and the Olympic Mountains to the west, the design seamlessly integrates the pavilion into the client's existing compound while preserving the roots of a majestic elm tree and respecting the views of the neighbors.

Selective architectural elements in the pavilion reference the studio's previous work completed for the clients on adjacent properties. Expressive concrete walls and rusted steel fencing extend from a new garage equipped with photovoltaic panels, defining the boundary of the site. These structures serve as a transition between the public alley and the private sanctuary within. The concrete walls guide occupants into the space, directing their gaze through the garden towards the pavilion located at the western edge of the site.

Approaching the pavilion, visitors are greeted by its parabolic roof with large overhanging eaves. This design element creates a sense of threshold and compression at the eastern end, and as it dramatically opens up towards the west, it provides expansive views and a connection to the compound on the south, as well as the benefits of sunlight. Inside the pavilion, the reclaimed Douglas Fir beams and purlins form an overhead plane, supported by columns to the south and the concrete wall to the north. The polygonal floor plan, coupled with the curved rusted steel wall to the south, gives the interior a surprisingly spacious feel compared to its modest exterior.

The pavilion serves as a harmonious refuge for the clients, seamlessly integrating with the textural landscape composed of rockeries, planting boxes adorned with vibrant flowers, and native plantings that mimic the environment of the Olympic mountain range. During warmer months, dynamic glass walls and wood panels on three sides can be completely recessed into walls or slid cantilevered out of view, effectively blurring the boundaries between the interior and exterior spaces. This transformation creates a seamless flow from the inside to the outside, allowing the landscape to become an integral part of the pavilion. In the rainy winters of the Pacific Northwest, these high-performance glass and wood panel doors, combined with a high-efficiency gas fireplace, offer a dry escape within the gardens, extending the usability of the space well into the off-season.

In summary, the Garden Pavilion project by Robert Edson Swain Architecture + Design is a remarkable retreat and gathering pavilion that seamlessly blends with its surroundings. With its design inspired by the magnificent vistas of Elliott Bay, Magnolia, and the Olympic Mountains, this pavilion offers a tranquil sanctuary for the clients. The ability to transform the space with operable glass walls and wood panels, along with its integration with the landscape, creates a harmonious connection between the interior and exterior. Whether it's enjoying the sunshine and expansive views or seeking shelter from the rain, this pavilion provides a versatile and beautiful space all year round.