When you enter the 2013 New American Home, one of the first things you’ll notice is water. As you weave your way through the home, you’ll see water. On every level, still more water. That’s because water was an element extensively tied into the home to serve both aesthetic and functional purposes, and the result is spectacular.
It’s not just the pool that’s amazing—although it is— it’s all of the water features that separately are beautiful, but altogether, the sum effect is even greater than the individual parts. Those parts include a koi pond, tranquility pool, a trough water feature that runs from the front to the back of the home, and then there are water walls that wind through the house, and interact with all of the individual water features.
Water was one of the main elements use to connect the indoors with the outdoors, and according to Blue Heron principal, Tyler Jones, the water features relate strongly to the architectural design. “There are a lot of dynamic water connections,” says Jones, “that spill from the first floor to the basement and connect to the water elements at the subterranean level.”
The water features accomplish more than just giving the eye something beautiful to drink in; they also serve the purpose of adding moisture to the air, and help to keep temperatures within the home cooler and more comfortable, in an energy efficient manner.
Waterscaping and landscaping go hand-in-hand, and of course water conservation is a large part of sustainable design, which is at the core of how Blue Heron does business. Jones explains that desert smart landscaping is a strategy that his company employs in all of their homes. No grass was used (or harmed) in the making of the 2013 New American Home. “We achieved a great aesthetic using almost exclusively desert plants,” says Jones. “Our approach was a sculptural and architectural use of plants, mixed with the water features to create drama and interest.”
Blue Heron architect Michael Gardner says that the way elements like fire, water and plants were used in this home create a Zen feel. Many people associate Zen with Japanese—lush and tropical. Gardner explains that with this home, they’ve taken this concept, and applied it in a different way; yet they’ve still adhered to the simplistic nature of Zen principles. “It goes back to Zen design,” says Gardner. “Water and fire. Earth elements. You’re bringing them to the home, embracing them. Organizing them in a certain way. And that adds to the ability to have a Zen-like experience.”