Contemporary Garden In The Urban Landscape
A. Existing Conditions/Challenges
- Unused city lot that offered difficult grade changes, size restrictions and difficult access as well as protection of surrounding residences and existing neighborhood features.
- Connect and unify the adjacent property with a new home being constructed in order to create an inviting outdoor garden, entertaining space, outdoor kitchen, and connect the interior rooms and spaces to the outdoors both visually and physically.
- Create a garden that becomes an oasis from the city (buildings, noise, people) while celebrating its urban surroundings, details and neighborhood, avoiding a walled-in and fenced compound that seems exclusive and disconnected from street life, people, and textures that makes living in the city unique.
- Develop a clear and detailed vocabulary of design elements, materials, and textures that unify the strong contemporary architecture of the residence.
- Soften the strong vertical elements that create the edges of the garden, including neighboring homes and power lines and poles in order to create a comfortable and inviting sense of place.
B. Design Process/Construction Solutions
- Created a link between home and garden elevation in a creative and functional manner, with over 4’ grade change in width and 5’ in length, through a series of graceful step transitions, planting areas, and walls of brick and black granite that physically relate to the strong proportions and materials of the existing architecture.
- Developed a series of uniquely proportioned outdoor rooms, located at varying elevations, that offer unique gathering spaces, sense of enclosure, and views to and from the home and into the new garden.
- Created an urban oasis that offers privacy and enclosure, while focusing on visual and physical connections throughout the garden by offering vistas, providing intriguing paths, subtle focal points, and destinations to be explored and enjoyed by the owners and their guests.
- Planting palette focused on urban-tolerant plants, seasonal interest, unique sculpture character, and proper size and shape to complement the design while softening architectural edges. Columnar Maples positioned in a linear form offered height and mass to soften undesirable views. A grove of single-stem Aspen trees surround the upper terrace and house and spill down to the lower terrace unifying the separate garden spaces and offering unique seasonal views from the home. Several unique specimen trees that include Kentucky Coffeetree, Purple Beech, and River Birch create natural sculpture as well as define the overhead canopy to the garden. Liriope, Pachysandra, and Ferns on the ground plane organize, unify, and create rhythm through the garden.
- Custom water fountain and water rill take advantage of the grade change and the long linear garden spaces. The water feature cascades over walls, scuppers, and basins toning down the city life that surrounds the garden.
- A low fence, created by steel I-beams, separates the garden from the street and public. Combined with plantings, the fence offers a semi transparent barrier while still offering a visual connection with the surrounding neighborhood and streetscape. The I-beam is an architectural detail on the home that is used to create repetition in the garden and unify the home to the garden.
- Paving materials and patterns are designed to add texture, unify and complement the simple color palette of the home, and create a soft and inviting surface to welcome you into the garden rooms and spaces.
Photography by Tony Soluri
- Converted a sloping and unused urban lot into a modern contemporary garden that uniquely solved and incorporated the grade changed into a visually pleasing and functional garden, connecting the client’s home to the garden.
- Unified the contemporary architecture and materials of the residence into the garden, creating a seamless and fluid connection of spaces.
- Incorporated urban-tolerant plant material and water to soften and mitigate some of the unwelcome elements of city life that surround the garden.
- Developed a clear and well-developed site plan that incorporated simple geometric shapes and forms to create a welcome, spatially comfortable, well-proportioned and inviting garden space
- Designed a garden that offers privacy and sense of enclosure for the client and their guests, while maintaining a connection with the neighborhood and streetscape, encouraging neighbors and pedestrians to enjoy the garden.