Clear Vi­sion

Inside Out - - CONTENTS - WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY LEIGH CLAPP/GAP PHO­TOS

A land­scape de­signer’s un­usual brief has re­sulted in a dream gar­den for three gen­er­a­tions.

Creat­ing a gar­den for a house that had not yet been built proved a suc­cess­ful chal­lenge for this de­signer

Usu­ally a land­scape de­signer is en­gaged to cre­ate a gar­den around an ex­ist­ing house. But in this case, the brief was to de­sign on a blank area of land. The clients – a pro­fes­sional work­ing cou­ple, their two chil­dren and the wife’s par­ents – were hav­ing an iconic three-storey Huf Haus built on an empty plot in Kent, and de­signer Nic Howard was cho­sen for his abil­ity to com­bine con­tem­po­rary so­lu­tions with soft, cot­tage-style plant­ing. ‘Be­ing en­gaged be­fore the house was even built was cer­tainly some­thing dif­fer­ent, es­pe­cially as the own­ers had quite a wish list of re­quire­ments,’ re­calls Nic. The ex­tended fam­ily were keen to cre­ate a sense of seclu­sion with an en­vi­ron­ment for en­ter­tain­ing and play ar­eas for the chil­dren, as well as space for the older gen­er­a­tion to in­dulge their pas­sion for gar­den­ing. Not least, a range of other el­e­ments also had to be in­cluded, from a swim­ming pool and seat­ing ar­eas to a home of­fice and a green­house. ‘It was quite a tough brief to get a lot of items into a small space and get it all to hang to­gether with­out be­ing con­fus­ing,’ Nic says. ‘We worked on very de­tailed plans show­ing ex­actly where the house and so on would be con­structed so we could land­scape in the cor­rect places.’ The first step was to put in re­tain­ing walls to cre­ate lev­els. ‘The hole for the house had been dug for the base­ment, which was like a con­crete shell,’ Nic says. ‘We were able to shape the gar­den from there, creat­ing a flat area that was then decked in sus­tain­able hard­wood and paved with lime­stone to be ac­cessed di­rectly from the older gen­er­a­tion’s apart­ment, while an up­per level was de­signed to be viewed from the first floor.’ Gravel ex­panses, steps and paths for ac­cess were in­cor­po­rated into the gar­den’s plan, leav­ing space for the pool and other el­e­ments to even­tu­ally be added, while struc­tural trees were planted down the cen­tral axis to break up the im­pact of such an im­pos­ing build. The ground­work took around three months, then the Huf Haus went up within a week, fol­lowed by the pool, a gazebo, home of­fice and green­house. Once the strong lin­ear bones of the gar­den

The gar­den’s rec­ti­lin­ear de­sign, soft­ened by plant­ing, works beau­ti­fully against the striking ar­chi­tec­ture of the dis­tinc­tive Huf Haus.

The im­pos­ing fea­ture wall, painted a stun­ning shade of deep pink with a cen­tral moon gate, is mir­rored in the turquoise pool, dou­bling the vis­ual im­pact.

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