- Project Name
- Alley Armor
- District Of Columbia
- KUBE Architecture
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- 605 sq. feet
- Milloy Carpentry
- Project Status
- Room or Space
2017 Remodeling Design Awards
Residential Exterior Remodeling under $150,000: Merit
Janet Bloomberg trod a careful path in creating an enclosed outdoor space perched above a garage in back of a Washington, D.C., rowhouse. The architect delivered the privacy her clients wanted while ensuring the surrounding neighbors weren’t blinded by sun glaring off the industrial materials she used to clad the 16-foot-by-20-foot space.
Replacing an existing walled wooden deck that was open to the sky, Bloomberg used pierced metal panels to let in views on the sides of the structure where the roofing was solid. The roof becomes increasingly open as it gets closer to the house, allowing for varying levels of shade and privacy.
A collage of metals—stainless steel, steel tube, aluminum mesh, and weathering steel—allows the structure to blend in with the somewhat dystopian nature of Washington’s alleys, where rowhouse rooftops bristle with air conditioning units, raised skylights, and satellite dishes.
Bloomberg specified a matte finish on the roof’s stainless steel panels, which would reflect sunlight without creating glare in consideration for neighbors in the six-story apartment building across the alley.
Not only is the rusting of the steel panels on the side of the structure facing the alley a nod to the industrial aspect of the alley, but the color matches the copper on the rear addition of the clients’ home, which Bloomberg’s firm had done in 2004.
The floor and a built-in bench that runs across the back of the space are made of ipe, as are the slats in the roof where it opens up. The wood adds a warming element to the design, providing a contrast to the metals and helping to bring a lightness to the exterior that Bloomberg felt was necessary. “I didn’t want it to be seen as a heavy box,” she says.
The project also included a redesign of the patio as well as the staircase leading to the deck.
2017 Builder's Choice & Custom Home Design Awards
Accessory Building/ Outdoor Space: Merit
KUBE Architecture’s Alley Armor is both a privacy blind and an aesthetic improvement for a private deck space and courtyard behind a Washington, D.C., row house. The layered-metal structure replaces the former open-top wooden fence around the top of the home’s detached garage, which anyone could look into from the six-story apartment building across the alleyway.
The clients wanted a deck enclosure that would provide them with a private, shaded space to spend time and entertain guests. KUBE’s “armor” solution serves to shield the deck from the alley-side view. Corten steel panel plating covers the back half of the roof, providing privacy and shade from the summer heat. The back wall mixes the panel plating with a wall of darker steel slats, which allow natural light into the interior.
Perforated-aluminum screens and a partially slatted top offer a filter for sunlight and a transition space to the deck’s exposed front, where a steel-railing fence and stairway rails lead down to a lower-level courtyard. The deck also features a new wooden bench built along the back wall. The enclosure’s exterior is a rugged mix of forms, with steel framing, wood accents, and light and dark colors that contrast with the existing red-brick garage below. This mix of colors and styles is designed to work cohesively with the surrounding alley environment, in which both structure and surroundings feature diverse forms and mostly functional elements. — M.S.
“The design inventively creates an urban outdoor space with privacy. It’s straight-forward and smart.” - Juror Christiana Moss
From the architects. This new outdoor deck and enclosure is perched atop an existing rear garage behind a DC row house. The Owners requested a private space for spending time and entertaining, with shade for the intense summer heat. A 6-story apartment building sits behind it across the alley, exposing the the deck to the windows of all the units. Our solution was to create a protective “armor” that shields the deck from outside views, but allows for viewing out from the inside. The roof is solid at the back, keeping the deck cool in summer, but becomes increasingly open as it gets closer to the house. The deck surround is a composition of layered metal, with a steel structural frame, Corten steel panels, perforated aluminum screens, steel railings, and stainless steel paneled roof. The rugged exterior is cohesive with the alley environment, where there is diversity of forms, with mostly functional elements, such as AC units and garage doors. The deck enclosure is similarly straightforward, with each element serving a function – nothing is “decorative.”