Sculpture Garden was designed for long-time clients looking to downsize from their former residence and create a family-oriented home and garden where they could spend time with grandchildren, and ultimately, create a space of relaxation and reprieve to enjoy retirement. As life-long patrons of Pacific Northwest and First Nations art, the clients’ collection became the heart of the design vision to craft a space where their love of art was seamlessly integrated as part of their everyday living experience.

Sculpture Garden redefines the notion of gallery as that of observation and separation into a fully immersive experience, and the garden effectively becomes the walls to this unique property. The property shape posed a unique design challenge, and the design team was tasked with creating spatial richness and a layered landscape experience within a city lot that was both narrow and deep. The vision was to create a boundless experience between home and landscape, which came to fruition amongst collaboration between the interior designer, client, contractor and our firm. The goal was to look beyond simply the thresholds between building and garden and expand the notion of ‘indoor/outdoor’ relationship to the furthest extents of the property.

The clients’ art collection remained at the forefront of the design process. What makes this project particularly special is the collaborative approach between our studio, the clients, and the artists, many of whom returned to assist in the situating, installation, and orientation of their works. The pieces were inventoried, measured, and integrated into the master plan, and digital mock-ups developed and integrated into all 3D renders and animations. Every piece was located with intention to form a narrative from when one entered and as they travelled throughout the garden. Each space had to be functional, both tough enough to handle flying soccer balls, and flexible in its layout for large group gatherings.

The garden is comprised of materials both sculptural and architectural in quality, while remaining timeless and rooted in the earth. The landscape walls throughout are composed of local large scale Grizzly Granite skins that were hand selected from a nearby quarry to ensure each composition created dramatic texture, and smooth enough to perform as a water feature face in particular cases. The water feature in the Entry Garden draws inspiration from the way water trickles down a natural boulder face – a feature integral to the Pacific Northwest mountain ranges. Seamless transitions between granite skins create the illusion of a space carved from a singular stone, as the skins wrap into the feature basin. To ensure water would not migrate across the faces, discreet quarter inch deep channels were saw-cut into the walls in-situ. A custom weir sits at the top of the wall tucked under boulder skins, with the water pressure adjusted to achieve consistent sheeting. Floating above the feature, a thin blackened steel plinth rises from the water to become the base to the majestic ‘Mother’ sculpture by Canadian artist, Bill Reid. The sculpture sits off-center, so it can be framed by the interior staircase.

Four Gallery Alcoves are carved from the property to allow light into lower level rooms and create comfortable spaces to linger. We challenged the traditional concept of light wells to create large ‘Sunken Gardens’ that integrated sculpture, planting, and seating, and visually connected to the gardens above. Plantings sweep the top perimeter to draw one’s eye to the main level landscape. A covered seating area anchors the furthest extents of the property, articulating its dramatic length. The sleek steel roof plane floats atop a freestanding granite-clad wall which conceals the maintenance and service area for the grounds. The material was chosen for its captivating reflective qualities, mirroring the surrounding water and existing trees as the sun sets. Closer to the main living spaces, a custom firepit is nestled into the patio, carved from the same local Grizzly Granite as the garden walls. Off the interior dining room sits a custom designed Renson structure developed with Atria Designs. The first of its kind, this structure forms an ‘outdoor room’, housing both pivoting and fully retractable louvres, speakers, lighting, heating, as well as a mounted television and integrated kitchen.

Sculpture Garden has become an oasis for these homeowners and their multi-generational family. The formal arrangement and flow of spaces creates a sense of respite and escape, despite its busy city context. A restrained palette of materials rooted in the region; a few select, yet powerful design gestures; and innovative construction methods make this garden special. The garden has become a permanent beacon for the clients’ lifelong passion for art, a space where they can entertain, and share this appreciation with friends and family, creating perfect harmony between art and daily living.

Landscape Architect: Paul Sangha Creative

Architect: Hodgson Design Associates

Landscape Contractor: Fossil Landscape Construction

Contractor: Linden Construction

Pool: Alka Pools

Photography: Brett Ryan Studios, Martin Tessler Photography

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Location: Canada

Design year: 2016

Year Completed: 2019


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