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Our client asked us to create a simple, yet visually stunning, view out of the glass doors of the previously dark, cluttered yard of their small terraced house in Belsize Park. With two young children, they wanted a safe and practical surface, storage and as much open space as possible, without compromising on the density of foliage and flowers needed to make the space feel lush and green. Whilst recognising the space was not large enough to be a garden, we had to be mindful that the area should not feel like a back yard.
We developed a design that removed all of the different levels and materials that made the space feel small and dark. Composite deck was introduced as a hard wearing surface with a natural colour. The design lays the boards diagonally to add interest and a visual feeling of space. As native New Zealanders, our clients were keen to include tree ferns, Dicksonia Antartica, which are perfectly suited to this shady spot. We planted the tree ferns in raised Corten steel planter cubes, to lift the plants off the ground, allowing space to walk past and shadows and light to bounce beneath the architectural leaves. The focal point of the whole scheme is a bespoke Corten steel wall, planted with a variety of shade tolerant foliage, with various leaf shapes and colours. Our inspiration was drawn from geometric forms and rock faces. We looked at how we could develop the idea to make both plants and a visually strong material provide a sustainable and stunning feature wall, that also plays with depth, so the space feels a little bigger. Finally we integrated storage for toys into a large western red cedar ‘trunk’ bench, that doubles as comfortable seating with lots of cushions for relaxation and space for the barbecue to be freestanding, so that it can be moved as required.
This small urban space is now a warm and inviting extension of the interior and makes the whole ground floor of the property appear bigger and brighter, whilst providing year round interest. The strong geometry of the feature wall is softened by the planting and creates a stunning feature when viewed from inside and out. The garden boundaries have been harmonised by using a bold paint colour and contemporary cladding.
PENNI G, BELSIZE PARK