Hummingbird House

Award of Excellence - Residential Design
Colwell Shelor
Sited on the declivitous embankment of the north side of Mummy Mountain in Paradise Valley, the Hummingbird House uncoils down the slope through a series of interweaving curvilinear wall forms. The elevation of the earth descends rapidly from 1548' to 1486', with the greatest fall occurring on the approach, between the main road to the home entrance, a fall marked by nearly vertical walls of Precambrian granite and outcroppings of quartz and schorl. The goals of the project were to solve considerable erosion challenges, restore and re-vegetate the landscape, preserve the remarkable ecological integrity of the site and architecture and create an outdoor courtyard in a previously underutilized area between two walls of the house. Groups of boulders matching the rocky site were winched into place in groups onto the steep slopes to stabilize, retain topsoil, increase infiltration, reduce erosion and create plantable pockets for an indigenous blend of native plant species such as the Foothills Palo Verde trees (Cercidium microphyllum), Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), Creosote (Larrea tridentata), and other native soil-holding species. This visually rich tapestry of native plantings and restored habitat gives way to a more cultivated landscape as one moves through the auto court to the front entry. A small but visually prominent space located between curving walls was transformed from an afterthought into an art-centric extension of the indoor living spaces. A spare use of materials created a modern aesthetic - rusted steel risers unite the two levels and raised slot planters with simple, sculptural plantings slide past one another. Dichondra was used in lieu of turf for a carpet of green. Curving concrete retaining walls control erosion and provide a clear distinction between the natural and enhanced landscape. Local artist Mayme Kratz's resin wall was designed to transition between the house wall and the landscape, providing a magnificent focal point in the garden.

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