Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Secret Garden in London, UK by Paul McAneary Architects Ltd
May 11th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Paul McAneary Architects Ltd
Paul McAnea! Architects have completed their ‘Secret Garden’ project, the transformation of a quintessentially British back garden in a secret location in St Johns Wood, London. The client’s brief was to create an entirely separate space within the confines of their back garden. Paul McAnea! Architects responded with a scheme that uses planting to create architectural layers and depth for a sense of seclusion away from the rapid city diatribe.
As you cross the threshold into the garden you are presented with a green partition of planting, concealing the entirety from view. This evergreen screen contains a broad variation of plant types to ensure year round coverage. You are then guided on a winding journey to a sunken seating area, formed from rough chisel-faced British sandstone. Once you descend into the lower level you are fully submerged in the vegetation and the house is concealed. The aim is to provide a completely private area with new angles and perspectives for the plants to be viewed from.
The journey through the space is forged by a narrow winding path of reclaimed railway sleepers. Laid in an offset, yet orthogonal pattern the sleepers bring the order of traditional Japanese Zen gardens to the project.
Contrasting to the dark tones and designed pattern of the sleepers are ground covering Soleirolia (baby’s tears) and Dicranoweisia cirrata (moss). They are allowed to flourish in between the timbers, their bright green tones creating a colourful carpet of vegetation, growing in unexpected shapes and forms.
At eve! turn the depth of the beds is visible, from ground to eye level the composition of the planting creates layers synonymous with English count! gardens. Verbena bonariensis and Fragaria vesca (alpine strawberries) line the edge of the paths, whilst Stipa tenuissima (fronded grass) provides texture and movement behind. Larger shrubs and trees such as Prunus lusitanica and Philadelphus ‘Virginial’ create the central structure of the beds, they rise high above eye level intentionally separating parts of the garden. The intermediate level is alive with bright colours and textures, Fuchsia riccartonii and Allium giganteum contrast and provide food for insects to flourish.
A solid rough faced bench acts as a focal point along the path. It’s minimal design, using just four elements, compliments the overall architectural language of the garden. At night the garden is transformed through integrated lighting. Up lighters follow the path casting a gentle glow on the under side of leaves and stems, they highlight the plants from new angles creating complex textures and shadows. Separate lights subtly illuminate the surrounding edges of the garden, framing the inner plants they draw attention inside the garden rather than beyond.
The unpredictable nature of working with living materials has provided new challenges for Paul McAnea! Architects. Over time Secret Garden will evolve, changing in form and composition, but it will remain, as created, a moment of calm away from the constructs of the urban lifestyle.
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