‘Arabesque’, Benest, Charente

BRIEF:

The garden is a 2m x 6m south west/west facing walled courtyard owned by a well-travelled couple who want their space to reflect their travels. The couple have a particular affinity for the islamic gardens of Morocco and India. The courtyard shares the high backwall of their house, which the couple feel ‘looms’ over them.

The property is situated a stone’s throw from an ancient Priory and so great care and sensitivity needs be given towards material choices and colours.

Although the property is now connected to mains drainage, an old fosse septique tank and the foundations of an old outbuilding exist beneath the current raised deck.

The clients want a space with the ‘wow’ factor in which they can relax, dine and entertain up to 6 adults. A water feature and lighting are desired. All in all, a lot to eek from a 12m2 space.

DESIGN:

Less is more, even more so in a small space such as this. A simplified space and planting with an Islamic garden influence will add that ‘designed’ look the client wants for the space, as well as make better use of what little space there is.

There is no space to divide the space into four quadrants, but nonetheless the design subtly breaks the space into four divisions. The universe’s four elements as represented in Islamic gardens, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, are all present in the garden through the material, colour and planting choices.

The tiling of the ‘landing’ area where the back door leads into the space will be removed and replaced with a sea-green exterior tile in a herringbone pattern. Corten steel is specified for use in the garden, deliberately to match the colourations of the Priory and also give that earthy, baked soil aesthetic. The deck will be reduced in size to accomodate a more generous depth of planting, and improved by use of a composite material that has the appearance of wood, with hidden fixings to keep a clean and uncluttered look in the space. Wider units of decking installed smooth side up will simplify the area visually, reduce maintenance and improve safety.

The existing boundary stone wall will be improved and repointed and its top levelled, onto which corten steel containers will be bolted and planted predominantly with herbs. Corten planters inserted into position will give generous planting.

The dominant house wall will be dressed with four arabesque patterned wall panels to break up the monolith and the existing grape vine raised higher up the wall and tied to a proper trellis to further reduce the oppressive sensation caused by it.

Various uplights and Moroccan-style lanterns will used to dramatically illuminate the space at night.

Progress will be shown via my Instagram account.