The rear extension forming the main living space in this RDA Architects designed house is built as a cantilevered structure, sitting nearly a meter above the lawn level; this was a planning requirement to protect the roots of the magnificent Hornbeam that dominates the garden. Our design required a solution that allowed simple access into the garden, mirroring the multiple openings, whilst also carefully avoiding any significant disruption to the Hornbeam. Transitioning from the internal floor level to the lawn required a series of steps, and, rather than attempt to divert away from this need, we playfully exaggerated it by using three types of species to create the illusion of hedge based steps. The garden also backs directly onto Lord’s Cricket Ground, and, with the imposing stands virtually on top of the garden, a row of beautiful evergreen Magnolia grandiflora, together with striking planters and sculpture, were used to screen the cricket stand and keep the focal points within the garden space. The sculpture came from South Africa, and was positioned so visible all the way from the front door.
Working alongside Reading + West Architects, and Bridget Reading id, who have completely re-designed the space in this beautiful Grade II listed house, the garden incorporates contemporary elements that sit comfortably with the traditional elements of the building. With the barn element of the house stretching over 35m in length, the key to the design was to create a series of compartmentalized spaces, without compromising the feeling of openness and the views beyond. We used perennial planting, combined with low evergreen hedging, to define separated spaces; these spaces include a pool terrace, a firepit set within a sunken seating space, a breakfast terrace and a tennis court. We also created additional space for parking and introduced new tree and other planting to the front of the house.
The garden space is entered and viewed from two levels, above and below the natural garden level. A focal point at the back was therefore essential, to consolidate the views from the house, and to create a strong focal point that took the eye away from the houses behind the garden. We achieved this by placing a huge water wall at the end of the enclosed entertaining space. The water wall is clad in horizontal strips of black limestone, with the water flow set so that the water gently adheres to the face of the wall, catching light and shadows, and dramatically lit at night. Three Katsura trees, which have an aroma of burnt sugar in Autumn, are planted within squares cut out of the deck. A grid of a further three trees are set on the boundary to provide further screening. The planted borders feature a range of architectural plant species that include Hedychium, Zantedeschia, Euphorbia and Melianthus.
The project coincided with the build of a modern annex to a Grade II listed house in a beautiful setting to the side of Bosham harbour. The design had to blend the old with the new, incorporating a swimming pool, terraces, a generously sized lawn and planting suited to a coastal position. The pool position was the starting point, where 3D models plotted shadow movement to determine where best to place the pool to optimize the amount of sun that it received. The house is located at the back of the site, and, with the whole space therefore in effect one large front garden, we planted an evergreen hedge to create a semi-private room for the pool. This hedge, in conjunction with a wide York stone path, formalizes the entrance to the garden. The stone surfaces were carefully selected to complement the build materials for the different parts of the house.
When the Clients bought this lovely family home in Belsize Park they asked the Architects Reading + West to draw up plans for a basement.
In a relatively small space, the Architect’s created light wells to both the front and rear of the house. Our brief was to maximize every possible amount of space in the garden, but with generous planting space for the Clients to indulge their passion for plants. Pleached trees were planted to create privacy around the perimeters, and this natural enclosure lent itself well to creating a superbly sheltered space, especially so in the front garden, which catches the evening sun, and now is home to an olive tree placed in a raised planter set at the end of a stepping stone path. The garden also features a secret space, tucked away behind the water wall, which is designated as the Moroccan room, for quiet times during the day and evening.
Like many London homes that have been extended out into the garden, a key element for the design involved incorporating a large excavated basement area and determining how to transition from this space up onto the natural garden level. The extension, designed by RDA Architects, at 11m across, pretty much mirrored the width of the garden, and, to avoid the lower terrace space feeling hemmed in or too remote from the rest of the garden, a tiered step unit was created for the transition. The unit comprised layers of single and double height steps, together with a built-in BBQ and herb bed, and glass balustrades beside the steps. The layering effect for the unit was reinforced by using stacked pieces of York stone to create a series of horizontal lines that line up across each element, divided by glass balustrades to guide you up to the lawn level. A series of clipped hedges of varying heights defines spaces in the garden that include a late sun terrace, a large vegetable growing area, and a separated children’s play surface.
The extension added to this house, like those for many London homes, was designed to let more light into the living spaces. This made the entire garden space visible, and, with Clients who had furnished their home with a stunning collection of mid century furniture, our design used a modernist footprint to echo the strong rectilinear lines of the furniture. This also had the effect, using lines of tightly clipped evergreen hedging, of both preventing the eye from taking in the whole garden in one view, whilst also creating pockets of interest. A row of pleached trees were carefully placed to screen the roof of a large home office at the back of the garden, which largely makes the structure disappear, and also created a deck terrace for dining in the garden.
The architecture of the extension to this home forms the basis of the layout in this pared back and minimlaist garden. The cedar wood frame at the end of the space mirrors the exact proportions of the extension windows and mullions. The perfect rectangle between these mirrored elements was filled with lawn, with the long edges defined on one side by a line of clipped hedging, and, on the other, by a path leading to the garden shed and storage behind the cedar frame. Both the hard landscaping and beautifully proportioned hornbeam trees planted on each boundary reflect a simple geometry, and clearly define the garden structure.
Our Client's brief was to maximise the amount of entertaining space, incorporating a central firepit, and to create an easy transition from the lower to the upper levels of the garden. The house has a super smart interior with a host of red coloured art and objects, and, with the garden viewed through room high glass on two floors, the red theme is carried through into the garden via painted walls and suspended perspex panels, supplemented by bold planting, from spring bulbs to summer flowering perennials.
Whilst a very small space, this is perhaps the most challenging brief we’ve yet faced. Our Client rented out a basement flat in a building next door to the Thames that had eight floors. Unsurprisingly, the garden received very little natural light, and, being rented, needed a very low maintenance solution. This small space also needed to incorporate a 3m height change. The design idea came from the stepped rice fields often found in Asian countries, and, after a lot of time spent testing the effect with a 3D model, we developed a design that used cor-ten steel (as a space saving retaining material) to create a series of boxes set at different planes and heights, with one plant species then allocated to each box. A beautiful tree fern then acted as the focal point from the table in the lower terrace.
Small spaces present special challenges and can be harder to design than a larger space. With a tiny space like this garden in Chelsea, we decided that it was best to leave as much of the area as possible uncluttered, making it appear larger and allowing for as much flexibility as possible for both adults and children. The main space saving feature was a built-in table, on the side nearest to the house, made from a single piece of Italian Basalt, to match the floor surface. The table blends into the background really well so that you barley notice it, yet provides a permanent seating area with storage space beneath. The planting carefully balances the minimalism of the garden, emphasizing the clean lines, yet still practical, with bamboo providing screening, and the line of ‘mind your own business’ carefully placed to absorb surface rainwater.
This garden is shaped as a parallelogram, and, with a desire to retain some lovely mature trees that sat away from the boundary, including Acers, and a magnificent Holm Oak, our design created a series of offset rectangular spaces, set parallel to the house back, which allowed us to use the spaces between the rectangles and the boundary lines to create generous planting beds. The Clients hail from New Zealand, and so we selected a range of NZ native species which are just at home in the UK climate. These included a range of more architectural species that included Phormium and Libertia. We supplemented these with several grass species, with a line of black Ophiopogon to separate the terrace spaces at the back of the house. Each of the hard landscaping elements was coloured a tone of grey, and we commissioned a polished concrete bench ideally sited to enjoy coffee and take in a view of the garden in the morning. Whilst the Clients moved home fairly shortly after the garden was completed, we're proud to say that they soon after commissioned us to design their new garden, which also features in our portfolio.