If you’re just looking for an ordinary shed for your backyard, Kyle Burke of Urban Outbuilders might not be right for you.
For starters, Burke is not what you might expect in a designer and builder. He has a degree in Sanskrit from Bard College, and speaks four languages. He spends his winter months as a guide in the Himalayas, working with preservation NGOs and laying the groundwork for future building projects there. His first major building project was a villa in Bali, which he built with local builders at the age of 18.
Accordingly, his buildings are far from ordinary. Urban Outbuilders specializes in what Burke calls “functional sculpture,” projects that are as aesthetically powerful as they are functional. He’s built everything from a rhombus-shaped chicken coop, to a yoga deck, to 6000-square-foot modular buildings that required 25-ton cranes to put together. The company is committed to “personal and global health,” reusing locally salvaged materials as much as possible, and avoiding toxic and unsustainable materials.
Burke loves working on these personal projects, but his vision for Urban Outbuilders is to do more large-scale, commercial designs — shared spaces, rooftops for condo towers, restaurant and bar interiors, or outdoor spaces for businesses.
“The goal would be to create an eden of gorgeous woodwork, plants, and spaces that are functional yet beautiful, all sustainably designed and engineered,” says Burke. “A 21st century urban agrarian paradise is the idea here.”
A worthy goal, to be sure — and no doubt we’ll be seeing some of those large-scale projects in the near future. In the meantime, click through to see a “greatest hits” of Urban Outbuilders’ backyard masterpieces, with Kyle Burke’s own notes about each piece.