Located in Vancouver’s historic Shaughnessy neighborhood, the landscape design of this unique heritage property pays homage to the traditional character of the home and community, while incorporating modern amenities for the contemporary family. At Paul Sangha Creative, our team collaborated with the clients and architect to establish a seamless flow between the interior and exterior spaces, achieved through a transformative central spine that extends from the heritage house to the trellis structure, garage, and pool house.

The project followed a phased approach, with the renovation of the house completed first, followed by the garden. It was crucial for our team to meticulously plan and execute the installation of significant landscape components, while the clients resided in the home.

Our landscape vision aimed to create a series of diverse zones that harmoniously coexist under a unified design concept. These zones include formal plantings that align with the neighborhood’s aesthetics, a sports court area and pavilion for active leisure, a trellised walkway connecting the verandah to the garage, a fenced-off area preceding the pool, a tranquil lounge space by the poolside, and a walkway leading to a play structure and the pool house, all nestled within a naturalized treed area.

Inspired by the colors of lakes and oceans in the Pacific Northwest, our chosen color palette throughout the property exudes a sense of harmony. By adopting a neutral material palette, we allowed the soft landscape to make a stronger visual impact. We preserved existing greenery while introducing a variety of indigenous plants, embracing rewilding principles whenever possible to minimize water consumption, pesticide use, and the need for fertilizers.

Mirroring the traditional four-square typology of the house, the U-shaped driveway was retained and enhanced with layered plantings, improving privacy from the street. This becomes a pedestrian-oriented space where vehicles take a secondary role. Four paperbark maples anchor the front entrance and driveway, forming a threshold that seamlessly links up with the street, and offers a captivating walking experience. Concrete driveway pavers guide the way to one of the clients’ must-haves: a basketball court at the garage entrance. These multifunctional spaces humanize the front yard and foster entertainment and child-friendly activities throughout the property.

The most significant challenge encountered was the substantial topographical variation across the site. Our design vision prioritized the integration of all levels of the property, ensuring each area felt cohesive and connected. We elevated and relocated the garage away from the rear yard’s service right-of-way, resulting in a more gradual driveway grade for the play court. As one moves through the rear garden, the sense of play and relaxation continues, with intimate firepit areas, play lawns, and a hot tub, collectively forming a vibrant outdoor space.

A meandering path invites users to engage with the various spaces, serving as a nature walk that connects the main house verandah, the pool, and the pool house. Sunlight patterns were carefully studied, slot drains strategically incorporated, and boulders utilized as natural retaining walls to achieve a seamless look while minimizing hard-edged concrete materials. An infinity-edge swimming pool aligns perfectly with the house, creating a breathtaking reflection of the sky and surrounding foliage. Locally-quarried stone from Squamish was artfully carved to form a firepit and hot tub, while a canopied walkway offers sheltered passage between the house and garage during inclement weather. The dining terrace, equipped with an overview, BBQ, and heaters, allows the family to relish outdoor dining throughout all seasons. The metal picket fence detail acts as a unifying element, reinforcing a spinal connection throughout the entire property.

Stormwater management plays a crucial role across the property, with all runoff handled on-site. We prioritized replacing existing hard surfaces with permeable paving and planting wherever possible, while retaining the existing hedging to preserve habitat value and maintain the mature character of the property. A careful balance was struck in the placement of trees and hedges to ensure privacy from neighbors while allowing ample sunlight throughout the day. Stormwater infiltration tanks were employed, enabling rain and stormwater to percolate into the soil, minimizing the need for active watering. 22 trees were added to the existing tree canopy on site.

By seamlessly blending modern and historic elements, the Foursquare residence exemplifies the harmonious integration of existing heritage and contemporary living. Our design approach celebrates the past while embracing the present, resulting in a landscape that beautifully enriches the overall aesthetic of the property and its surroundings.

Architecture offices involved in the design:

Landscape Architects: Paul Sangha Creative

Architects: Measured Architecture

Landscape Contractor: Trillium Landscaping

General Contractor: Powers Construction

Photography: Ema Peter Photography

Location: Canada

Design year: 2018

Year Completed: 2021


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