Three trees and a side door anchored Luis Ibarra and Teresa Rosano's vision for this landscaping project. Orienting the space to maximize existing shade yielded a cool concrete court with separate areas for al fresco dining and desert viewing. Rosano says the design's crisp geometry generates “a framework of colored concrete planes that affords distinct areas for socializing or contemplating.” Our judges agreed, calling it “a significant extension to the house in living space.”
An abstract arch greets guests and directs them into the oasis. The arch's cantilever frames a flowering Palo Verde tree and a concrete bench accented with green glass tile. Ibarra and Rosano used the tree/bench combo to highlight their transformation of a side door into the diaphanous main entry. “You come in parallel to the house,” Rosano explains, “and the bench wall stops your field of vision and turns you toward the door.” Flowing out from that transparent door, the main patio sits on grade with the house for a seamless indoor-outdoor transition. A concrete block wall wraps around two sides of the outdoor space for added shade and privacy. Tucked inside the wall's corner, task lighting, a built-in grill, and a cantilevered steel counter form a service area for entertaining.
The yard's sloping topography—and a desire to safeguard existing tree root systems—led the pair to include a raised plinth in their plan. That upper patio provides informal seating along its perimeter and a bird's-eye view of distant desert panoramas. A rectangular planting bed within the square platform creates interesting foreground views for the home's living spaces.
Entrant/Architect: Ibarra Rosano Design Architects, Tucson, Ariz.; Builder: Kern Builders, Tucson; Structural engineer: Harris Engineering Services, Tucson; Concrete contractor: Luciano Concrete, Tucson; Project size: 1,300 square feet (outdoor space only); Site: 1.82 acres; Construction cost: $46 per square foot; Photographer: Bill Timmerman.