April 18, 2014

Outdoor Living

Emphasizing the Outdoors in Building


[Photo: Tommy Crow]

Marieanne Khoury-Vogt and Erik Vogt, architects with a modest practice, closed up shop in Miami four years ago and moved to a seaside enclave in the Panhandle to transform it into one of Florida’s latest New Urbanist communities. They also set up residence there. Andres Duany, founder of the New Urbanism movement, recommended them for the job: Town architects, Alys Beach. The fledgling town (only 5% to 8% of properties have been built) is full of the outdoor living hallmarks of New Urbanism, plenty of pedestrian-friendly avenues, open gathering spaces and private residential courtyards.

“Every house has a private courtyard,” says Khoury-Vogt. “It’s a wonderful way of living in a climate where nine to 10 months out of the year you can open your house to the outside.” The architecture, inspired by weather-resistant Bermudan design and the family-centric courtyard style of homes in Antigua and Guatemala, pays respect to the elements and capitalizes on them. Houses are situated on lots to take advantage of prevailing breezes from the Gulf. The courtyards become extensions of the living space and allow residents to enjoy being outside even in the summer.

Caliza Pool
EMPHASIZING THE OUTDOORS: The community “Caliza Pool” is modeled after a Greek agora. Surrounding buildings are designed as open-air loggias for different functions, from dining to changing rooms. [Photo: Jack Gardner]
The Vogts’ house, which they designed along with other residences in the development, is L-shaped. They can open their gates to the neighborhood or close them and have full privacy. They have 2,200 square feet of air-conditioned space, with an additional 975 of outdoor living space.

Outdoor areas make up to 30% to 50% of total living space in Alys Beach homes, says Khoury-Vogt. Most rooms have views of the courtyard, which have a fountain or pool, or both. They are landscaped with native, drought-tolerant plants. “They are wonderful spaces to be in,” says Khoury-Vogt. “We consider it a room of our house. We dine, read. Our girls play there.”


Tags: Environment, Housing/Construction

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