Green Residence

Garden / New Zealand / Built in 2015 /

This landscape design showcases how much potential small backyard spaces have in making a house a home. This private New Zealand garden set in a suburban property in Christchurch’s outer city is hidden away from the outside world. The collaborative effort between the client and the designer transformed this overgrown and disconnected backyard into a unique private oasis. Created not only for intimate family living, but also entertaining with friends. The setting was great to start with, with a large, sunny northern facing back lawn and fantastic mature trees. What was missing was a setting within the garden that would draw the family into the space so it could be functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. The large deck existed but there was no pull factor to encourage them further into the garden. The family had spent a lot of time and money renovating a 1960’s bungalow, making extensive changes in the interior design and overall form. The next step was to bring the exterior spaces up to the same standard, with construction completed part way through 2015.

The repetition of design elements created a strong connection between house and garden integrating the existing and new aspects. The landscape has been composed with an asymmetrical balance, formal on one side and loose and organic on the other, yet both reflecting similar sweeping gestures. A simple pallet of materials consisting of hardwood timber, concrete (both plain and polished, precast and insitu formed) and plastered concrete block walls were used throughout the design to reflect the material pallet of the dwelling. The cantilevered slatted seating was integrated into the hardscape, which appears to float above the plants adding ethereal air to the garden, rather than individual freestanding elements. Staggered paving among the irregular concrete pads gives a sense of flow that mirrors the wavy edge of the woodland garden across the lawn. The use of contemporary materials gave the design crisp, clean lines meeting the client’s needs. With the new innovative barbeque entertainment unit nestled amongst the existing vegetation this was no mean feat in terms of construction. Especially due to the bespoke nature of the barbeque bench, being polished concrete with a cantilevered waterfall end to the bench. Another challenge within this job site was having no access for machinery meant site clearance and excavations, removal of spoil and vegetation, had to be completed by hand and wheel barrowed out to the front of the site for disposal. With restricted access all materials needed for the job had to be wheel barrowed down a narrow path alongside the house. This included all the concrete which had to be mixed at the front of the property.

With the client working from home and his office space looking directly out to the garden the new outdoor space was to be a focal point for him to view through the large north facing glass doors. It was key that views from this space, and from the lounge had impact and that the new garden shed was well integrated and essentially hidden from these viewpoints. In order to assist with this we built up a basic 3D of the concept and showed key internal views that correlated to photos he had supplied that were key to him and his family. We love how this project has matured and how the family have found unexpected uses for the spaces. The stepping stones are a canvas for the children to scribble hopscotch and other chalk graffiti. The walls and BBQ bench are a playground of surfaces that the children use as their own jungle gym, balancing and climbing over the structures. This design shows how effective tempered design can be – respecting areas that work by leaving them undisturbed and designing to emphasis what’s already there (large trees and lush lawn). This is an example of restrained design for maximum impact in a world where designers can often prefer to start with a blank canvas. Floating seats over existing planting and using the large trees to frame the main entertaining space make the design appear seamless and well established from day one. The result is a garden that encourages the family to use the space, adding aesthetic, recreational and monetary value to the property.


Entrant office name : Goom Landscapes Ltd
Role of the entrant in the project : Landscape Architectural Design and Landscape Construction
Website :
Other design firms involved in the design of the garden (if any): nil
Project location (State or Country) : Christchurch, New Zealand
Area : 720m²
Design year : 2014
Year Built : 2014-15
Photography Credit : CMG Studios


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