The site conditions at the outset of the design process consisted of four primary elements. These included large existing Locust, Silver Maple, Apple and Fir trees; expansive areas of lawn; rolling changes in topography; and the contemporarily designed residence.
The client’s basic desire for the design of their landscape was to create an extension of their indoor living space, outside. This designed area needed to meet their needs of functioning as a space for activities through all four seasons ranging from large scale party hosting, to providing intimate opportunities for individual relaxation.
The design intent of this project centered on the concept of creating a multi-use activity space in the landscape which reflected the homeowner’s contemporary design sensibilities, while also functioning to accommodate for their specific lifestyle. In addition, problematic conditions including undesirable grade changes, drainage issues, and large areas of lawn were to be rectified as per the homeowner’s request.
The resulting design features constructing a greenhouse as a living space, with patios composed of recycled plastic railroad timbers, terraced succulent gardens retained by Corten steel, gabion-cage retaining/seating walls, and parterred vegetable gardens. Drifts of grasses and shrubs soften the industrial exterior feel of the house, and a planted native wildflower meadow provides habitat and food for birds and other wildlife. The interior of the greenhouse was designed with found objects and salvaged material, reflecting the homeowner’s personal taste.
The scope of work for the design focuses primarily on the eastern portion of the larger countryside property. Gabion cage walls were inserted to address the change in topography to the north end of the site as well as solving drainage and erosion issues. The gabion walls wrap around the site, reinforcing four distinctly different spaces. These spaces are separated through changes in topography, materials, and program. Program was defined mainly by the changes in elevation and the increasing distance from the main residence. Closest to the residence, the outdoor patio is centered on seasonal entertainment and relaxation. Next, the greenhouse focuses on outdoor living and year-round inhabitation. The parterre garden is primarily a space for horticultural activities and harvesting for the residing family’s personal use. Finally, the outlying areas of the property beyond the vicinity of the greenhouse are meant to be more natural, very low maintenance, and beneficial to the native wildlife.
Designing with a responsibility and sensitivity towards the environment was paramount in the conceptualization and construction of this landscape. Reclaimed building materials were used wherever practical. For other applications, local materials were purposely sourced to maintain a minimal carbon footprint. An example of this is the stone used to fill the extensive gabion cage walls, transported to the site from less than ten miles away. Keeping within the theme of sustainability, large areas of lawn were replaced with drought tolerant, native meadow plants.
Entrant office name: Groundswell Design Group
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape Architect
Other design firms involved in the design of the garden (if any):
Project location (State or Country): New Hope, PA
Design year: 2013
Year Built: 2013