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Gardens Again...

Posted by caliwag , 01 June 2014 · 1,248 views

I was going to make reference to an early blog, but I now cannot find it, suppose it might've been a dream.

Anyway I came across a rather delightful French word the other day, which I guess has been claimed by the world of art.

Decollage...OK the first 'e' should have an accent on top, so it's 'de' as in day I suppose.

This was my attempt to get architecture students to think three dimensionally about space around and in between buildings. Traditionally, in
architecture teaching, the 'spaces left over after planning'...SLOAP, were either chopped out of the budget or never considered in the first place...
a problem for someone else or a garden 'designer' who generally is good at laying slabs, blocks and paving.

So my view is to consider all of the garden space to be something or stuff three feet high...could be meadow, swaying grasses, hedge or scrub, etc
and then visualize how the spaces of your needs and desires might fit into, inculding routes through with linking paths and so on.
So you might (via a list) consider the morning and evening suntraps, BBQ area, play space (ball games!), veggie area, fruit area, herb area, greenhouse
area, fragrance or visual delight zone, water feature and bird feeding, dog play...the list is endless, entirely in your hands (well, heads at this stage).
Ideally a model would work well, with the 'stuff' being sand or similar grains, of corrugated card, but something cheap to manipulate.
Also you must take into account privacy, views, seasonal sun and shade, quiet and yes even repose (look it up in Websters or 'The Small House' by Arthur Martin.)

You see again design is like the old joke about the spittoon...courtesy of my old tutor and mentor Dick Graham

So decollage is the abstraction of material (think political posters, torn down hastily and reapplied so nothing makes sense, just a beautiful image...well two dimension-wise.

It's a reverse way of approaching the issue, getting into 3D thinking at an early stage. It could be used for house design of course...see blogs 'Design from the inside out' and 'Poche' (French again, accent, pronounce as in day!)

As mentioned elsewhere any book by John Brookes will set you thinking...many on abebooks.co.uk

Happy planning. Jim



This is something I have always been very aware of. My present house has a burn splitting the garden in two, with most of the "other side" being a steep slope.

When we bought the plot I just imagined it would remain very wild and perhaps we would tackle it with a strimmer once or twice a year. But as it happens we have made quite a lot of useful garden space by terracing it, and building a stone wall to retain one of the levels. So now there are three levels with a summerhouse right at the top level to get the views, a lawn on the middle level, and some seating down by the burn on the bottom level.

Our new house still has the same burn but without the steep sloping bank. So that still splits the garden. Now we are planning where to put the bridge over the burn, which will be lawn, which will be vegetables etc.

An important aspect of gardens is privacy AND sunlight. we turned down one plot as the front of the house would face south and it was nigh on impossible to get a private area of garden that gets any direct sunlight. That is an insurmountable problem if you are buying an individual plot. but you would think a developer with a whole field to turn into a housing estate could do a reasonable job, but not many it seems can be bothered or care.Just look at how many houses on developments have north facing gardens, or north facing living rooms. They just don't care.
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Interesting...yes, you do highlight the privacy/sunlight issue very well there: one that most people don't consider at an early stage...including developers of course. I recall, when a rookie draughtsman, when working for a small Scottish developer, being asked by the sales manager, 'could a potential buyer have a side window to the dining room to catch the evening sun?' This was before I had learned anything and was after I had 'laid out' the development of 30 odd houses, taking account of drainage, overlooking (Scottish regs. were always very prescriptive) car-parking and access and whether refuse trucks could pass at speed. (Highways engineers really did rule the roost in the 60s and 70s ) but not aspect, sun angles, views, privacy nor site opportunities. I was total rubbish and so was everyone else!

in your case there would seem to be scope to capitalise on the burn, essential paths, and less important paths, as access and linking the various site uses. It needs to be about importance based on views, the seasonal sun angles, overhanging and therefore shading of trees (in reality not a lot productive grows under a mature tree(s) especially when you want it!), shelter (think the sunny yet spots, out of season with the snell wind biting round you, and so on.

So it's a sort of layering process with gradations of importance...paths and routes, focus points and suitable for play and planting/veg etc spots...without asking the dog! Models are good for a 3D exploration too: nothing permanent, 3D and instantly visible and adjustable and good fun...till the cat walks over it. I like musical analogies, and refer to architect Bernard Tschumi who set out a grand scheme for La Villette in Paris...a former meat market.He likened the device he employed as an approach to music...The Tune/Melody were the routes/rivers/paths through the space...the Chords formed the planting/enjoyment areas and the Rhythm were the punctuation points...in his case pavilions at intersection points of the routes, in garden thinking terms, sunny spots, structures in form of trellising, bird bath/feeder stations, a sundial perhaps, a particularly sheltered fragrant spot, a water feature etc etc. Of course all this must relate to the house, exits/entrances/views...it's all in one!!

Sounding like a priest on 'Thought for Today', I am reminded of a case in Scotland where a mate invited me to look at the potential house half-way if a North facing hill with a brilliant sun-lit view of the valley. Now this was around the time I forgot about West-facing evening sun, but luckily he rented the spot for 6 months with the option to buy. he came back to me later 'you know Jim, the sun doesn't rise above the hill for 6 weeks of the year...its freezing and damp in Winter'...he didn't take up the option of purchase, needless to say.

I think there's a bit more, in a different order, on this in the free design decision notes above. 'House Design, the Architect's View

Any comments/thoughts most welcome

Enjoy the process. Jim
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