ARCHITECTURAL ATTENTION AND DESIGN THEMES

Architectural attention can be influential in selecting a design theme in the form com­position phase.

There are times when a particular design theme might be selected to reflect the client’s preference regarding overall design character. For instance, a client may be inter­ested in having a very energetic design with a lot of visual action. This might lead to the use of an angular design theme, one that is usually quite different from most landscapes and can be quite visually active. In a different situation, a client might want a very con­servative, casual, and soft character in the design. A curvilinear design might suit these clients well. But, many clients rely on the designer’s discretion as to the proposed char­acter of the landscape design. In these situations, it is suggested that the designer look toward the architecture for design suggestions. This can occur in a few different ways.

First, a specific design theme (rectangular, circular, angular, etc.) may be selected because it seems to be strongly related to the distinctive character of the architecture. For instance, a house with a variety of angular patterns of roofs, windows, and walls may best be suited to a diagonal or modified diagonal theme. Likewise, an arc and tangent theme may be very suitable for a house that has strong vertical and horizontal lines with circular and semi-circular archways and windows. The overall character of the house may lend itself to one particular design theme instead of others.

Second, when clients do not have preferred design themes, which is often the case, attention should focus on the architectural character. It is especially important to attend to those architectural features that were addressed and discussed at the client meeting, and subsequently photographed. Therefore, if the clients are not attracted to a specific design theme, and the house does not have a specific style, the designer may incorporate specific architectural features into the main forms of the design. For instance, even for a house that does not have a strong style, a client may really like the character of the porch—in particular, the arches of the porch. So, the designer may choose to use the forms and pat­terns of the arches as strong accents within the design. In this case, the designer would se­lect a design theme that would allow for those particular forms to be the accented areas.

Four examples are presented to illustrate how the design theme responded to certain aspects of the architecture. Figure 10—64 shows the first example. The client, a

single mother with three children, did not have any preferences concerning the pro­posed character of the landscape design. She stated that she was mostly a casual indi­vidual who enjoyed reading, exercising, and occasional entertaining. Because she would entertain fairly often, she wanted enough patio space to set up a few tables with chairs. In addition, she wanted a private space not only for reading and exercise, but also for entertaining an intimate group.

As you can see, the arches on the porch provide a subtle change from the strong overall rectangular pattern of the house. In response, a rectangular design theme was selected for the hardscape structures (steps, walks, patios, decks, fences, etc.). These architectural elements will have a strong relationship to the existing architecture. Then, an arc similar to the porch arches was used to accent the edge of the major gathering space. The rest of the yard was configured with a curvilinear design theme, which blends with the arch character and the softness of the curves. The private space, near the dining room, is enclosed with a fence high enough to provide the requisite separation for her reading and exercising activities. The form of the patio in this space also reflects the slight arch.

Figure 10—65 illustrates another example. In this case, the clients really liked (1) the strong angular patterns of the roof, (2) the variety of window sizes and shapes, and (3) the irregular stone pattern. In addition, they wanted to entertain larger groups of people, about 15 to 20, approximately once a month. They wanted a larger than nor­mal patio space that would even offer the lawn as an overflow area in case they enter­tained a larger group. They also requested a private place for a hot tub, with a view to the river. Because they both enjoyed the water for fishing and skiing, they wanted to emphasize views up and down the river.

A modified diagonal theme was used for the major wood structures to conform with the overall character of the house. The wood deck system was used to provide easy access and views through each of the several sliding glass doors. The shape of the decks was established to emphasize access down the steps to the lower stone patio in directions of the best views to the river. Stone, similar to the stone on the front of the house, was used with a curvilinear layout to provide for a casual, welcoming connec­tion to the lawn area and the river. A private space for the hot tub was included near the bedroom. It is separated from the entertaining space and the adjacent property with a high fence, but allows for a view of the river.

The third example is illustrated in Figure 10—66. The clients are a middle-aged couple who both have top management positions in local companies. Their children are grown and married. They are champion bridge players, and usually entertain 12 people once a month. Outdoor patio spaces would need to support three sets of tables and chairs. With regard to overall garden character, they prefer a formal garden design that is clean and crisp and that responds to the architecture. In particular, they like the half-circular patterns of the windows.

As you can see, an arc and tangent design theme was selected. It responds not only to the half-circular patterns on the house, but to some of the horizontal lines of the roof. The form and pattern of the major patio space adjacent to the family room came from the arched window pattern on the front faqade of the house. The two side patios, which will allow for additional table placement, are situated at an angle to re­flect the strong roof pattern and to focus attention to the corners of the property where special plant masses might be established. The focal point of attention is di­rectly out and through the central patio space into an ornamental planting area. Materials for the patios are a combination of brick and stone, both of which match the colors of the material on the house.

The fourth and final example of architectural attention in the form composi­tion phase is illustrated in Figure 10—67. These clients are a young couple with two

grade-school-aged children and two dogs. They are working parents who enjoy relax­ing when they get home. They have always been partial to houses with a formal char­acter, and really enjoy the clean, white look of this one. Although much of the interior decor is also quite formal, they are more interested in having a very informal garden design. For relaxation, they plan to maintain vegetable and perennial gardens. Eating outdoors is a real pleasure for them and they plan to install a permanent grill for cook­ing near the kitchen and breakfast areas. They entertain small groups, approximately six to eight people, every other month or so. Stone is their favorite material for patio spaces because they love the low stone wall along the front edge of the property. They requested fences for retaining the dogs within the property and away from the veg­etable garden.

The designer selected a curvilinear design theme that would provide for smooth, casual, flowing lines. The major patio would be large enough for a table and chairs, with room for some other groupings of furniture, as well as potted plants. Stone, re­flective of the front stone wall, was selected for the major patio space. The vegetable garden was placed in the back corner with a small sitting/relaxing area adjacent and beneath some shade trees. The fence is situated directly on the property line to maxi­mize their usable space and provide a play area for the dogs. A place for the grill has been established near the indoor eating areas.

As demonstrated in these four examples, architectural character can be incorpo­rated into a designer’s thinking in the form composition phase of design. The reason there were more design decisions shown in the examples (patterns, plant materials, etc.) was to provide a better understanding of some of the other aspects that also in­fluence a designer when selecting design themes. It is important to note that major decisions concerning design forms can be made at this form composition phase. Then, in the spatial and material composition phases of design, decisions can be made regarding the detailed forms, materials, and patterns.