Of innovative design, this visually arresting, contemporary urban garden is a testament to excellent construction
Having bought this inner-Sydney home, after downsizing from a much larger property, the owners had a clear vision for their new outdoor space. It was to be easy to maintain, so the existing pool area had to be repurposed, and it needed to be modern and visually interesting, providing the ideal showcase for their exclusive art collection.
The brief didn’t end there, however, says Steve Warner from OUTHOUSE design. “They also wanted an open aspect entertaining area at the rear of the house which would be protected from the sun, an intimate entertaining area with privacy from the neighbours, and a sense of connection between the garden and the studio above the garage,” he explains.
Urban Garden Enrichment was the company charged with transforming the space into a contemporary urban garden, and Simon Munn and his team set about transforming the space. The first task was to remove the pool and stabilise the area, a complex task when the only access to the site was via a door to the garage.
The garden was divided into two zones. The first is the inviting entertaining and dining area. Here, Urban Garden Enrichment installed a customised concrete bench for the barbecue and bar fridge, a built-in seat, garden beds and a pergola with a louvred Vergola roof. The area was paved in 800mm x 400mm Andorra limestone tiles, which were also used for the “floating” steps that lead down to the next level.
The second space, its design inspired by a 1970s-style sunken lounge, is a place for cosy gatherings and because it is low-set, allows a clear view from the house to the main sculpture which claims pride of place at the rear of the garden. Spotted gum decking boards were used to build the sunken lounge and deck area, its warm tones complementing the lush green planting.
Considerable technical expertise went into the construction of this garden. “To begin with,” says Simon, “the original pool structure, which was not square, filled the majority of the backyard area so it was important to try to retain as much of the existing pool support structure as possible. Other major parts of the job included the adjustment of the levels in the back area to allow for paving, garden beds and the sunken lounge deck area, building structurally sound support in the pool area to allow for the concrete base, and the installation of new retaining walls in the pool area.”
The creation of the steps connecting the spaces was another impressive construction feat. “To do this we core-drilled multiple holes into the retaining walls we built for the garden beds. We installed heavy-duty galvanised angle bars into the holes spanning across to the other holes and concreted the bars in place. The control joints were left unfilled and clean to create a sense of suspension. Next, we glued the tiles on top of the bars with a gap between the tile and the wall to allow for slight movement on the steps. This evoked a sense of floating down the steps towards the sunken lounge.”
Throughout the garden, the owners’ collection of beautiful art was installed, including a vertical garden wall and various sculptures. The sculptured feature piece at the end of the garden, installed on a concrete base for stability, sets the tone for the garden and can be admired from all outdoor aspects, as well as from the home.
Although distinct, the two spaces feel unified due to the use of the same large-format paving throughout and the single-species (Syzygium australe) boundary planting. For a low hedge around the sunken lounge, there is Viburnum tinus, while elsewhere you fill find Rhaphiolepis indica ‘Oriental Pearl’, Malus atrosanguinea (used as a feature tree) and Ajuga reptans and Dichondra argentea groundcovers.
In the 2018 LNA Master Landscapers Association Landscape Excellence Awards, this project won Gold for Urban Garden Enrichment in the Residential Construction $75,000 to $150,000 category, as well as the prestigious title of Husqvarna Residential Landscape Construction of the Year Award.
For more information