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 garden 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.
Working alongside Reading + West Architects, and Bridget Reading id, the garden incorporates contemporary elements that sit comfortably with the traditional elements of the building. The key to the design was creating a series of compartmentalized spaces, without compromising the feeling of openness and the views beyond. Perennial planting, combined with low evergreen hedging, defines separated spaces; these spaces include a pool terrace, a firepit set within a sunken seating space, a breakfast terrace and a tennis court.
This Townhouse was one of five recently renovated in Leinster Square by Alchemi Group, a property development management company placing a high emphasis on architectural interior design. The outdoor spaces were a key part to delivering the boutique, modern day living style proposition of the homes. We introduced Cor-ten steel elements to create a unified structural approach for each individual area. On the roof terrace this took the form of a cor-ten picture frame for a green wall on one side, and bespoke fabricated planters for the jasmine screening on the other side. Cor-ten curves span and connect the two visible sides of the light well, with beautiful planters and furniture completing the spaces and reinforcing the character of the interiors.
The project coincided with the build of a modern annex to a Grade II listed house to the side of Bosham harbour, blending the old with the new. 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, and an evergreen hedge planted to create a semi-private room for the pool. The stone surfaces were carefully selected to complement the build materials for the different parts of the house.
The garden space is entered and viewed from two levels, above and below the natural garden level. The water wall at the back creates a strong focal point that takes the eye away from the houses behind the garden. 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 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.
Like many renovated London homes 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, 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. 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 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. Lines of tightly clipped evergreen hedging prevent 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, and also framed a deck terrace for dining in the garden.
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 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.
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 rear 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.