Pure creation

Design in harmony with nature that's the essence of every collaborative project by architect Charles Stinson and landscape architect Shane Coen
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View of pool area.

Good architecture is not just about the four or more walls that make up a house it's also about the way a home relates to its surroundings and its connection with the natural environment.

Maintaining this harmony with nature is a critical part of the overall design process for architect Charles Stinson, founder of Charles R Stinson Architects, and landscape architect Shane Coen, founder of Coen + Partners and studio instructor at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. For many years, the pair have worked together on a wide range of residential projects from Deephaven, MN to Dubai.

"No matter where we are working, our goal is always to create an environment in which it's impossible to tell where the architecture stops and the landscape architecture starts," says Coen.

"When we presented our plan for a residential community to clients in Dubai we were surprised to find that we were the only team that integrated architecture and landscape architecture into our vision," says Stinson. "This is simply how we work. We believe that for a project to be successful, it must be conceived with an indoor-outdoor relationship."

Closer to home, Stinson and Coen have collaborated on a number of award-winning homes in Minneapolis and across the country. The duo is currently working on several projects, including a house in The Woodlands, Texas, with owners Michael and Jane Minarovic.


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Image of man.

"Charles and Shane make a great team, because they're very enthusiastic, respectful of each other's perspective, and committed to creating the best design for our needs," says Michael Minarovic. "Throughout the design process, we would suggest ideas to them, and they would create something better than we could ever have envisioned."

Regardless of geography, however, every Stinson-Coen new home project begins with a commitment to the collaborative creative process.

As a vital first step, Stinson and Coen spend time with their clients on the site.

"By watching the way the light arcs across the site during the day, and absorbing the local context, we can develop a plan to best site the house, the elevation, the swimming pool and other landscape elements," says Coen. "This leads us to the design, which deftly interprets the juncture where building and site converge."

The finished homes always reflect the clients' vision, as well as a strong sensitivity to the site. Horizontal planes create a feeling of balance and a connection between indoors and out. Rooms unfold seamlessly into each other, which results in a tranquil, Zen-like ambiance. Windows are placed to capture the light from sunrise to dusk, while geothermal wells, green roofs, and hidden cisterns minimize impact on the environment.

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View of pool area.

After living in their new home for several months, clients often report that they feel as though they are being embraced by their new home environment.

"When things are done really well, with simplicity and elegance, nature does the work," Stinson says.

For more details, contact Charles R Stinson Architects, phone (952) 473 9503. Website: www.crsarch.com.

Or contact Coen + Partners, phone (612) 341 8070. Website: www.coenpartners.com.

Jul 13, 2011
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