ISSUE 30  |  The Summer Kitchen

Vote for the Best Hardscape Project

July 29, 2014 6:30 PM

BY Meredith Swinehart

Our judges have selected the finalists, and now you get to choose the winners. Vote in each of the 17 Considered Design Awards categories, on both Gardenista and Remodelista. You can cast your vote once a day in each category, now through August 8.

In the Best Hardscape Project, our five finalists are Specht Harpman Architects, Egon Walesch, SHED Architecture & Design, Steven Harris Architects, and Howells Architecture & Design.

Project 1

Specht Harpman Architects | Weston, CT | Weston Residence

Design Statement: Blurring the distinction between built and natural, the roofscape, or fifth faí§ade, becomes a critical element. Terraced planes with year-round, regional succulents step down the hill. The planted roofs are integral to the high-performance envelope.

Chosen by: Guest judge Neisha Crosland, who described this as a “great landscaping job that is in harmony and complements the landscape.”

Above: Terraced roofscape.

Above: An outdoor living area.

Above: The overview at night.

Above: A view from the creek.


Project 2

Egon Walesch | London, England | London Garden Remodel

Design Statement: The garden of an Edwardian house in London was redesigned when a garden room extension linking the kitchen/dining area of the house was linked to the garden. A small courtyard for dining and entertaining was created, as well as an oval-shaped lawn surrounded by borders of shrubs, trees, herbs, and herbaceous perennials.

Chosen by: Gardenista Editor-in-Chief Michelle Slatalla: “It’s wonderful not only to find a Mediterranean microclimate in the middle of London, but also an owner who pays enough attention to the weather to know that an olive tree will flourish. The hardscaping elements and the plants work well together to create outdoor living space.”

Above: The paving is a mix of travertine and poured concrete in three complementary shades.

Above: The garden has lots of spaces to sit and take in the surroundings, as well as entertain.

Above: The lawn is in the shape of an oval to add interest to the design.

Above: Mediterranean and semi-tropical species thrive in the temperate London microclimate.

Above: The garden room extension links the house and garden. Harmony is created by using materials and finishes that are similar to the original structure, while the design is contemporary.

Above: The planting is a mix of old and new, with shrubs, trees, and herbaceous perennials all happy bedfellows. The olive tree was planted as a small specimen but enjoys the climate.


Project 3

SHED Architecture & Design | Seattle, WA | Denny Blaine Yardscape

Design Statement: The original house, designed by architect Paul Thiry, had long been neglected before the new owners purchased the property. Once they began to clear away the overgrown shrubs it became obvious how large the yard was, and the opportunity they had to create a beautiful indoor/outdoor living space. SHED Architecture & Design created a contemporary yard design that played off the international design style of the original house: simple forms, clean lines, and a flat roof. The new design features a grassy area, a small garden bed, a patio for outdoor dining, and a fire pit. The long concrete wall creates privacy, yet is low enough to allow a connection to the street and neighbors passing by.

Chosen by: Michelle Slatalla. “Behind an unassuming concrete wall is enough outdoor living space to render the indoors obsolete. This is a project that makes the most of the land as well as the landscaping.”

Above: A cozy outdoor fire pit with wood storage shed.

Above: A large concrete planter houses a maple tree and provides additional seating along its edges.

Above: Ample space for outdoor dining, lounging, and lawn games.

Above: Concrete was used to create a strong and smooth wall that defined the south edge of the yard while setting off the brick of the house.

Above: Once grown in, perennials and billowy grasses will soften the exterior concrete wall while creating a beautiful layer of color.


Project 4

Steven Harris Architecture | Calistoga, CA | Napa Valley Pool

Design Statement: This gunnite pool is semi-inground, situated on a ridge that overlooks Napa Valley. The top two feet of the pool wall rise above ground in a straight datum that contrasts with the natural topography of the slope. The 25-meter pool was designed as a lap pool, with a wooden planked bridge separating the main pool from a small reflecting pool at the end, which adjoins a stepped seating area. This shallow pool perfectly accommodates children. A rammed-earth wall that bounds the property ends at the head of the pool and is capped in a water feature designed by Brooklyn artist Peter Lane. The surrounding landscape, like that of the entire property, is planted with native species of trees and low-lying shrubs, including tanoaks, manzanitas, and madrones.

Chosen by: Neisha Crosland, who said she loves “the way the pool cuts through the natural landscape like a sneaky alligator. The landscape is enhanced by the presence of the pool as much as the pool is enhanced by the fantastic landscape.”

Above: A rammed-earth wall runs the length of the property before ending in a water feature by Brooklyn artist Peter Lane. Water moves along a runnel before cascading into the pool.

Above: The markedly orthogonal pool contrasts with and highlights the craggy topography of the natural landscape.

Above: Though the pool rises slightly above ground, it is low-lying and subtly incorporated into the landscape; a surprise amidst the native trees and shrubs.

Above: The pool is situated on a ridge overlooking Napa Valley. Here, a planked path leads to a sunken seating area and separates the lap pool from the shallow children’s pool.

Above: The grounded geometry of the pool wall and walkways imparts a tranquil, anchoring presence onto the property.


Project 5

Howells Architecture & Design | Portland, OR | Laurelhurst Garden

Design Statement: This project reimagines an unremarkable and underused backyard in Portland, creating an urban garden with an adjacent writer’s studio. Taking inspiration from Japanese precedents, we conceived of a paving scheme with planters, a cedar soaking tub, a fire pit, and a seven-foot-tall cedar fence. A maple tree forms the focal point and will grow to shade the yard. Board-formed concrete planters house conifers, maples, and moss, appropriate to the Pacific Northwest climate. Moss plantings between the pavers break up the rigorous geometry, softening the landscape both visually and underfoot. Challenges included working sensitively with the root systems of trees on the four adjacent properties, integration of a new site drainage system, and the complexity of fitting a dimensionally rigorous design into a site that appears rectangular but isn’t. The new fencing is sheathed on both sides, both to afford greater privacy for the owners and to provide an aesthetic experience for the neighbors that is equal to that on the owner’s side of the fence. The cedar will weather to a silver-gray.

Chosen by: Michelle Slatalla. “The before-and-after photos tell a Cinderella story that should be heartening to anyone who is wondering what to do with a plain Jane backyard.”

Above: A multi-use landscape includes a soaking tub, a fire pit, a barbecue area, and an outdoor dining area. The pavers are cast-in-place concrete.

Above: A 7-foot-tall cedar fence is sheathed on both sides, to afford maximum privacy and give the neighbors a quality fence, too.

Above: Board-formed concrete references a Portland tradition.

Above: A cedar soaking tub will weather to a silver-gray, like the fence.

Above: Moss between the pavers softens the design, both visually and underfoot.

Above: Before, an underused backyard.

Like what you see? Click below to cast your vote for your favorite finalist in the Best Hardscaping Project category. You can vote for the finalists in all seven categories every day until August 8th; winners will be announced on August 9th.