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On The Boards: Site Considerations on Kiawah Island

We just started work on the site considerations for the design of a new home on Kiawah Island.  Our clients intend to retire and live on Kiawah full time, so they want to make sure the design considers not just their current lifestyle but can continue to support them as they get older.

After much deliberation, our clients bought a lot on Rhett’s Bluff that over looks the marsh and the Kiawah River beyond.  The view is spectacular!

Imagine looking at this view every day. Life on Kiawah doesn’t get any better than this.

This site also has a truly magnificent 41” diameter grand live oak tree…and since the tree sits well inside the building area, I immediately realized my design issue for this site would be to design a perfect home for my client’s lifestyle that maximize the opportunities to enjoy the view while preserving this magnificent tree.

With a diameter of 41″ at the base, this live oak tree is a spectacular tree. Because it is trees like this that establish Kiawah Island’s reputation for its natural beauty, we will not have permission to cut it down or remove any major limbs

As required when building on Kiawah, we met on site with Jennifer Hayes, the Landscape Designer on staff with Kiawah Island Real Estate. Her principal concern was the protection of the 41″ live oak and how we would locate our new home on this site.

Luckily most of the trees major limbs extend towards the marsh, but one extends back into the site and could be in conflict with our preferred location for the new house.  Since this limb could be an issue for us, we asked the surveyor to come back to the site and locate this limb on the survey so we could make sure we were doing everything we needed to do design the home around the tree.

We designed the home with a pool located on one side of the tree and a large  porch located on the other. We connected the pool and the porch with a cantilevered deck that almost touches the tree, creating a feeling of wrapping the outdoor recreational spaces around the tree and placing some areas as close to the water as possible to maximize the view.

The face of the house is set back from the tree to provide clearance for the trunk and the angle of the branches. In addition, almost all of the rooms of this new home face the view.

The single story master bedroom is located under the major limb that extends over the house (shown in pink on the site plan), so our 41” grand oak tree is fully accommodated in this site sensitive home design.

The site layout maximized the views from almost every room in the house and sensitively responded to the space requirements for the grand tree.