South American Style, A Minnesota Pavilion Makes Cooking

Instead of allowing an unused play structure decay in their garden, this Minnesota couple made the most of its ideal location. Architect Marcelo Valdes recycled the playground and utilized the spot for a new indoor-outdoor escape with a great view. Set just past the main house, the spacious and open pavilion has an authentic South American–fashion grill which can currently be utilized for three seasons out of the year.

Job: 3-season outdoor area
Location: Golden Valley, Minnesota
Size: 24 by 12 feet

M Valdes Architects PLLC

Once their brothers were increased, the play structure in this Minnesota couple’s garden became a waste of space. The playset had a prime spot in the yard — toward the trunk, at the top of a slight incline, with a view of a little valley below.

M Valdes Architects PLLC

Valdes had the playground recycled and began this arrangement from scratch. The main house is nearby, but neither the clients nor Valdes felt like the pavilion needed to match its style. Rather, he made a subtle arrangement that mixed into its environment. The pitch of the roof slopes down to the house, minimizing the pavilion’s visual impact. Large windows allow for transparency in areas of the pavilion. Weathered cedar looks inconspicuous in the landscape.

M Valdes Architects PLLC

The clients (one is shown here) love to cook and wanted to attract their latest fascination with South American barbecuing into their new backyard escape. Valdes, a native Uruguayan, imported an authentic South American grill from Uruguay to install inside the pavilion.

A custom concrete counter poured onsite prevents hot coals from falling onto the wood flooring. Additionally, it is suitable for holding grilling tools.

M Valdes Architects PLLC

Of course, the big and bulky grill presented some design challenges. Originally Valdes struggled with placing the heavy brick structure in this light and airy pavilion layout. “It was an issue of combining things that are extremely opposite,” he says. “I chose to not blend them but to contrast them.”

Placing the grill against the far wall allows it to serve as one heavy component in the open arrangement. The comparison between horizontal and vertical lines will help to balance out the space.

M Valdes Architects PLLC

Generous windows create views to the main house and the valley on every side. Valdes avoided double-hung windows, since middle mullions often block sight lines. Instead, seamless windows and screens allow for a clear view.

The windows are actually sheets of polycarbonate that are just screwed in. Throughout the summer, the clients throw the vinyl sheets and store them below the pavilion, leaving it more open. When the weather warms, the clients reattach the sheets to keep things comfy.

M Valdes Architects PLLC

Simple, industrial light fixtures give the inside and outside a hot glow. Timeless Paulistano seats — made by Brazilian Paulo Mendes da Rocha — and Brazilian hammocks contribute to the South American vibe.

Interior barn lights: Seagull Lighting; outside sconces: Westinghouse

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