Twin Lake Terraces transforms natural storm water with a 3D-printed modern fountain.

This exquisitely detailed modern landscape uses aesthetic features, such as a 3D-printed centrifugal downspout and recirculating fountain, to showcase the site’s rainwater harvesting and treatment system.

Built in St. Louis Park, Minnesota in 1948, the existing home had an open-plan interior that should have connected to the landscape to create indoor and outdoor spaces. However, the original landscape consisted of a stairway and lawn. The renovated home and entirely new landscape aesthetically and functionally marry the built and natural environs. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open up the living room to the highest of two terraces. Architectural materials are used in the landscape—and vice versa. The front stairs, landing, terraces, and planter walls are constructed of the Fond du Lac Flagstone used as an architectural detail for the original house. A trellis, benches and stairs are built from FSC-certified Ipe wood (Brazilian Walnut), which is also used for the entry soffit and the front foyer’s ceiling. In 2017, the ASLA Minnesota presented this landscape architecture design with an Honor Award for the way it “respects and enhances the California-Modern style of the home.”

Floor-to-ceiling glass doors replace an opaque wall with punched windows, opening the living room up to the top terrace. The walls of the terraces and structured planters are made of the same Fond Du Lac Flagstone originally used to clad the chimney, build the entry stairs and stoop, and add texture along the base of the home. The renovated home appears to rise up from the landscape.
Transforming natural stormwater
with a 3D printed modern fountain
The flagstone is used in three ways: dry-set as a pervious pavement, machine-milled to create formal, smooth surfaces for the massive steps and entry landing; and split-face for the terrace walls and exterior cladding. LED light sources illuminate the base of each stone stair.
All stormwater is managed on the site. Water shed from the roof surfaces is harvested and directed to a digitally designed, custom-fabricated centrifugal downspout.
The design team used hydrologic simulations and rapid prototyping to precisely design and 3D print the aluminum centrifugal downspout.
By spinning the stormwater that passes through it, the downspout creates a corkscrewing, linear flow that shoots through the center of a weir and into a formal, constructed pond.
Water pumped from the constructed pond is sent back through the weir. This separates much of the pollution from the stormwater. Particulate matter is then captured by a series of mechanical filters before the water travels through a sand filter buried beneath the back terrace and on to a constructed wetland at the back of the property.
Water flowing over the edges of a circle in the center of the weir creates a vase-shaped, sculptural cylinder.
A trellis constructed of FSC-certified Ipe wood shapes the top terrace and provides relief from the afternoon sun. Native sedge provides a soft contrast to the bold, clean-edged Mid-Century Modern hardscapes.
A welded COR-TEN Steel staircase filled with compressed pea gravel leads from the front terraces to a series of outdoor spaces behind the house. The gravel provides a pervious surface that water flows through rather than across.
Flagstone and Ipe wood steps create a clean transition from the front terraces to the rustic, pea-gravel-and-steel staircase.
While the front yard is geometric and modern, the rear yard is wild and natural.
The top of this Ipe wood bench is flush with the smooth stone floor of the upper terrace. The dimensions of this bench, which cantilevers over the lower terrace, match those of the modules used for the top of the trellis and the seating beneath it.
Structured planters stretch into the front lawn to establish a formal edge. They are faced with the Fond du Lac limestone and their side walls are constructed of COR-TEN Steel. The landscape design features native species throughout, such as the Prairie Dropseed and Serviceberry Shrubs shown here.
The architectural renovation opens up the main entry, replacing the existing opaque surfaces with glass. The soffits and the ceiling above the foyer are made of Ipe wood. The flagstone terraces and walls finish the composition of the house by stretching it horizontally and accentuating the vertical chimney at its center.
The new landscape unifies all site features and creates outdoor spaces that feel like they have always been there.