As discussed in the previous three chapters, preliminary design addresses and studies two key issues. First, it establishes the two – and three-dimensional spatial frameworks of the outdoor environment through form composition and spatial composition. The two-dimensional forms creatively organize and coordinate three-dimensional elements such as earth, plant materials, walls, fences, and overhead structures to create outdoor rooms. Second, preliminary design studies the general appearance and style of the design. The design theme, the overall organization of design elements, and the tentative selection of materials collectively establish the visual character of the proposed design.
But as the name itself suggests, decisions made about these key issues are open to change. The designer often uses preliminary design as an exploratory step to study different ideas, especially if alternative design solutions are prepared. Furthermore, choices about materials are vague with only broad-brushed determinations (brick versus wood, evergreen versus deciduous, and so on) and little consideration for the exact texture, color, or pattern of the materials.
The more complete and detailed decisions about the design are made during the preparation of the master plan after feedback has been received from the clients regarding the preliminary design. The master plan builds on all the previous steps of the design process to formulate a proposed design that the clients will use to guide the development of their residential site. The master plan is the culmination of all the designer’s efforts and is sometimes the end of the designer’s involvement with the clients. Other times, the designer carries the project on to subsequent phases as discussed in Chapter 4.
This chapter presents criteria for selecting materials, a palette of potential materials, guidelines for their composition in the master plan, the process for preparing the master plan, and the master plan’s graphic style and content.