The Designers

Joseph Huettl
Huettl Landscape Architecture
Walnut Creek, Calif.

John Fritz
General manager
Swan Pools of Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek, Calif.

What the judges thought: The design settles into the natural hillside. The spa feels as though it always belonged there, overlooking the vineyard and mountain views.

Elliptical eyes: As part of an overall remodel, the homeowner brought in Joseph Huettl to completely redesign the yard space around the Craftsman-esque home. The spa and firepit were requested by the client to serve as the highlight of the backyard. The elliptical space overlooks a vineyard and itself can be viewed from the home’s deck above. Huettl wanted the owner to see a strong and interesting geometric form when viewing the spa area. “A lot of the time we’ll do more straight-line elements,” says Huettl. “At this site, with the oak trees, I wanted it to feel more naturalistic.”

Natural concrete: The architect of the home had specified a composite material for the main deck. To connect with the house, Huettl surrounded the firepit and spa with the same wood alternative. For added structural strength, the dry shotcrete extends from the spa all the way to the firepit area. Piers hold the structure in the ground and are connected by the shotcrete. Smooth stucco was used on the retaining walls to make them more suitable for sitting. Concrete steps connect the rest of the yard, but are designed to fit in the natural hillside.