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Peaks & Valleys

In the American Southwest, mountains often serve as oases from the flat, dry land and persistent sun: they offer shade in their shadows and valleys, provide height to capture breeze, and can feel cool to the touch. Peaks and Valleys, our shade structure design for Phoenix, Arizona, captures the spirit, if not the mass, of these topographical landmarks.

Equally suited to desert and downtown, sand and sidewalk, this modular system consisting of four unit types can be combined for various effects and organizations. Each of the units—square in plan but with varying topographic roof shapes—has the ability to be joined with any other. When amassed or strung together, continuous paths or open spaces may be sheltered from the sun beneath this varying terrain.

Constructed of locally sourced wood slats that are held in place by environmentally friendly Glulam beams, the modules are light, simple structures. Varied spacing of the wood slat cladding, or louvers, allows for the control of sunlight: denser slat configurations face south to protect from constant, direct sun, while looser configurations allow visual connection to the surrounding landscape and city beyond. The varying densities also allow cooling breezes to pass through the structure, and when lit by the ever moving sun, the louvers cast dynamic patterns on the ground plane below.

Supporting manicured plantings, xeriscaping, or water features in their cradle-like geometry, the valleys are generators of place within the field. Planters, reflecting pools and seating are created as the units are combined and the angled walls meet. Openings in the slatted panels afford views of these moments.