Magna Residence

Magna Residence

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

2002 Merit Award, South Carolina
American Institute of Architects

2002 Honor Award, Robert Mills Residential Design


The home sits on the low, heavily wooded peninsula of a coastal barrier island, surrounded by tidal marshes. The design objective was to achieve height for vistas and spiritual exhilaration, yet to establish a strong sense of anchoring, a connectedness to the contours, textures, and plant life of the specific, natural site. This anchoring and unification is achieved through the stair tower that springs from the dunes to provide vertical access to all levels, and, ultimately, the observation post above the trees. Climbing and turning up the stair, one is exposed to changing orientations and diverse views of forest, marsh, and the ocean beyond the tree line.

The tower's apparently expanding top releases the viewer to consider the horizon, the movement of the water, the changing sunlight and moonlight over the surfaces of the land and water. Other features occur spontaneously, like the curved bay for a breakfast table that bursts out of a wall to catch the morning sun, and a secondary vista, and the exterior stair from the verandah down to the ground that bends abruptly to avoid collision with a fallen, but still living, oak.