This project illustrates four different alternative design solutions for the front yard. Although the solutions are different, each was based on the same client, the same site, and the same design program.
Approximately 18 months ago, Jessica and Brian Fleming purchased a home in central Ohio. Over this past year, they have had their house modified drastically to fit their lifestyle, as well as their family and personal needs. A base map of the site is shown in Figure 14—11. The formal living area used to be the garage. The front entry was extended out into the front yard. A new three-car garage was added to what used to be a generous side yard. They are looking forward to moving in several months from now, so they are contacting you to begin developing ideas for their front yard site development.
Major Design Aspects
Form. The majority of this alternative, primarily in the hardscape, consists of a series of rectangular patterns, whereas the softscape has a more informal and organic character. The kitchen garden is a formal system of rectangular forms and establishes a strong axial view out of the kitchen window.
Terraced Entertaining. The entertaining deck is designed in an informal manner, with decks at various levels, at a 45-degree angle, and creates a strong relationship to the family room. There are built-in benches as well as some expanded steps near the access to the lawn. These expanded steps provide for informal seating, places for cushions, and potted plants.
Kitchen Courtyard. The courtyard is like a mosaic of various pavement types and various plant masses. It is nearly a bilaterally (both
sides of the axis being the same) symmetrical design. There is a sculpture on the west side of the courtyard, whereas on the east side is a set of steps for access from the bedroom. The grill is situated on the west side of the screen behind the sculpture. The central view from the kitchen captures the kitchen garden and a pleasant view to the three ornamental trees at the south end of the lawn.
Lawn Play. A large open lawn is provided across the back of the yard. Ball play is designed to be on the east side, with a length of wall serving as a soccer goal. A fence is situated on the east and south to prevent the ball from entering the neighbor’s yard. The gazebo is situated in the southwest corner to provide a view from the deck and from the gazebo to the green space to the southwest.
Major Design Aspects
Form. The modified diagonal theme was used for the entertaining deck, which responds to facades of the house. The rest of the project is of a curvilinear pattern, to provide a more informal and natural character to the yard.
Terraced Entertaining. The deck is divided into two levels, separated by four risers, giving various places to set tables and chairs. The steps between these two levels are extended across the entire length of the deck, providing plenty of room for informal seating and potted plants. The grill is in the southeast corner of the upper level. A small set of steps provides access to the lawn, maintaining a more enclosed feeling within the deck.
Kitchen Courtyard. Although the space is a curvilinear pattern, it is still designed as a formal courtyard. Similar plantings are located on the sides of this space to create an axial view from the kitchen window (similar to Alternative #1). This courtyard is very open, with a single tree planted as a focal point. The steps widen as they approach the lawn, making for an easy and open connection.
Lawn. There is no planting in the southwest portion of the yard, so as to maintain very open views to the common green space. A soccer wall is located on the south property line, with evergreens behind it. The gazebo is located in the southeast corner and tucked between deciduous and evergreen trees.
Major Design Aspects
Form. The modified diagonal theme was used for the design of all the hardscape, and again, as in the other alternatives, the planting beds are more curvilinear and informal.
Terraced Entertaining. This alternative establishes all the entertaining deck at one upper level. This helps maximize the visible useable space as seen from the interior, and it eliminates the need to walk up and down stairs while entertaining. There is a long built-in bench that stretches along the west sides of the deck. With the open deck, tables and chairs can be placed at any number of locations. The grill is situated on the southeast portion of the deck.
Kitchen Courtyard. As in the previous alternatives, a symmetrical design is established for the courtyard. The central focal point of the courtyard is the octagonal herb garden. This provides for a pleasant view from the kitchen window. Providing more of an angular design allows views to the southwest and the southeast to be emphasized.
Lawn Play. Similar to Alternative #2, the gazebo is located in the southeast corner. A fence is located on portions of the southeast and the south property lines, which will provide stronger privacy for those sitting in the gazebo. Some planting is situated in the southwest corner, to help enhance the views to the common green space.
Major Design Aspects
Form. A series of circular forms were used to develop this alternative for all the hardscape. And, to provide a different material, this design did not utilize any wood.
It was designed with pavements, steps, and walls made from concrete and/or masonry (brick, stone, modular wall units).
Terraced Entertaining. Two brick landings and steps connect the main terrace with the family room. There is one major open terrace at this mid-level, with opportunity to place tables and chairs. Steps lead down to a small patch of stone that can be used as a small patio at lawn level. The grill is located in the southeast side of the terrace.
Kitchen Courtyard. The kitchen garden has a simple rectangle as the central place for the main table and chairs. Plantings on the sides are reserved for smaller plantings and herbs. Access from the bedroom, into this space, is from a set of brick steps similar to the entertaining terrace.
Lawn Play. A major difference in this alternative is the location of a gazebo/shelter between the kitchen garden and steps to the lawn. This is intended to be like a screened porch with access through doors on the north and south sides of the structure. An open lawn stretches across the backyard and is bound by a small fence along a portion ofthe east property line and a longer fence on the south side. The fence does not approach the southwest corner ofthe property to make sure views to the green space are preserved.
Jessica has been a thoracic surgeon for approximately 10 years. After having two children and being a stay-at-home mom, she decided to finish her residency requirements and practice medicine. She is quite busy, sporadically, but still finds time to enjoy her family. She is a marathon runner and seems to be running all the time. She enjoys lying outside in the late spring and summer writing in her journals and reading novels written by her two favorite authors—Anne Rice and Stephen King.
Brian is a retired U. S. Marine who has recently taken a top management position for a local group of physicians. At 46, he is actively involved with the local Audubon Society and is an avid bird watcher. He loves sitting outside, reading, listening to music (all kinds), and writing humorous fiction.
Their two children, Chad and Brad, are 12 and 13, respectively. They can usually be found playing the seasonal “ball-sport” in the front yard. They would love to have some generous lawn space, but realize some of it will be taken up by other necessary amenities.
The site is relatively open, except for several different but healthy trees. The trees are situated toward the front central portion of the site. The Flemings would like to keep these trees, but are open to transplanting a few of them, if needed. The land – form varies about 5 feet from the front corners of the property (Elev. 118.0) to the ground in front of the main entry (Elev. 123.0). Neighbors to the adjacent properties are pleasant people. The physical aspects of the neighbors’ houses and site development create no visual problems for the Flemings.
Program Elements for the Fleming Residence
After meeting with the Flemings at their residence and following up with phone conversations to verify a few things, the following design program was established.
• Provide new vehicular driveway not less than 12 feet wide.
• Incorporate space to park two additional cars for visitors.
• Design an entry courtyard with sitting area near the main entry of approximately 100-150 SF.
• Incorporate a formal geometric garden with annuals, perennials, hedges, sculpture, and/or bench, of approximately 200-250 SF.
• Establish a vegetative viewing area, on the northern corner of the property, to block an objectionable view to a vacant lot across the street. A neighbor bought it to prohibit another house from being built. Unfortunately, it opens a view further into a small industrial site.
• Retain and enhance a very pleasant view to the eastern corner of the property. There is a great view through a common area into a nearby golf course.
• Provide plantings to enhance a view from the street to the house.
Alternative Design Solutions for the Fleming Residence
There are four different alternatives presented for the Fleming residence. These alternatives are shown in Figures 14-12 through 14-15. As with the Macintosh residence in the previous example, each of these alternatives has dealt with the same client, the same site, and the same program, yet is unique with regard to overall function, form composition, spatial composition, and material composition.