Entry Drama

Garden / Canada / Built in 2016 /

This private family residence located in West Point Grey features one of the most sought-after views, as it looks towards the North Shore mountains and downtown Vancouver. The residence sits on an approximately ¾ acre lot on a northwest-facing hillside. The dramatic site slopes more than 45’ from the south to north property lines. With this project, we faced the interesting challenge of making the pedestrian entry welcoming and enticing, while crossing the driveway twice and dropping 22’ in elevation. Creating a private space, while meeting the strict municipal regulations of retaining view corridors for neighbouring properties, required an in-depth study of the site. The result of our consultation was the creation of a layered landscape that works functionally as well as aesthetically. The garden is an extension of the residence, a series of outdoor rooms and areas for both adults and children to enjoy their varying activities. The owners also had a Northwest Coast Native art collection and wanted several of their pieces displayed in a naturalistic garden setting. Local boulders were incorporated to reduce the concrete wall construction and unify the site. The hardscape was sculpted around the stone to transform the bare terrain into the illusion of a natural outcrop.

The pedestrian entry engages the visitor with the introduction of a cascading stream and poured concrete staircases winding between the curving driveway, which terminates at the auto court. The free-standing garage recedes into the hillside and is faced with the same horizontal wood siding as the front gates. A pathway transitions the visitor from the driveway, which doubles as a basketball court for the children, to the main residence entry. A water rill lines the pathway and flows over a weighty, locally sourced boulder, that was precisely positioned to create a dynamic waterfall in the koi pond. The pond, which features a sizeable island rock, wraps around the southwest corner of the residence where sliding doors open directly onto the numerous focal points. The scale of the entry becomes more intimate with a bronze sculpture set amongst a group of tall Japanese maples. The artwork offers a point of contemplation before the “oh wow” moment is experienced, the corner is turned, and the dramatic water feature is fully realized.

Water is the main element in this garden and the variety of features provide a choreographed movement through the garden, indicating a natural path for circulation. From the cascade and stream, to the rill with waterfall and koi pond, the front garden overwhelms the visitor with surprises. Following the stairs from the driveway, a secondary path leads down to the raised corten steel vegetable beds lined with baby tears and curved, crushed basalt pathways. It was important to the owners to have a productive food garden that was close to their outdoor cooking / eating area and was an inspired visual solution to the practicality of the request. A metal water fountain lined by a boxwood hedge and sub-tropical planting offers a calming view from an office in the residence and provides a responsive sound to conversations of guests on the covered terrace. The shaded patio lined with rustling bamboo features a pizza oven and custom outdoor kitchen. An infinity edge pool and spa are anchored with two large boulders that were selected to unify the front and rear gardens and act as sculptural art pieces to the flowing water behind. A custom bench and array of terraces present numerous areas to entertain and enjoy the varying aspects of the residence. A circular fire pit lights up a seating area and offers a balancing glow to the artwork and planting that are highlighted by energy efficient LED light fixtures. The pool and spa located in the north garden focus beyond to the spectacular ocean view, overlooking the putting green and play lawn, where rousing games of soccer often occur.

Our involvement in the project began with a site that was almost completely cleared for construction and was entirely replanted to create a mature coastal garden that reflected the indigenous artwork that was to be featured. One of the large totem poles visually connects to the trunk of an existing large cedar tree behind and symbolically represents members of the family. Throughout the garden a mixture of bird and bee friendly plants were thoughtfully planted to encourage a variety of food sources and protection for wildlife throughout the year. The garage features a green roof with enough depth to allow for large plant material and trees to help screen the residence from the street above.

This garden is enticing with mystery and a series of water features, giving the young family a multitude of garden experiences in a naturalistic setting. The front entry sequence, which terminates at the rill, waterfall and exotic koi pond makes a strong reference to the rainforest. No matter where you are in the garden, there is always the allure of water.



Entrant office name: Ron Rule Consultants Ltd.
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape Architect
Other design firms involved in the design of the garden (if any): Garret Cord Werner Architects & Interior Designers
Project location (State or Country): Canada
Design year: 2015
Year Built: 2016


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