From the Start
We looked at public parks and plazas as a point of reference instead. Public spaces always need to do multiple things because events and activities within them tend to dramatically change day to day. This is one of the exciting aspects of a city environment.
An example comes from a 2019 trip to Toronto called stackt market (shown below). It’s part restaurant, part retail space, part public park, part art gallery – and it all fits into a wedge-shaped plot beside a jungle of train tracks. The nice thing is that it offers something for everyone – green space for kids to play, art to enliven the area and a design quality that says this place is special. So how do we translate to fit into a residential space?
First, I really needed to understand what the owners need. This typically comes in the form of practical, functional changes. There were 2 big ones: 1. The front steps were too small. If they had a bag of groceries and 2 kids, nothing could fit on the top step or around the door to go inside…and in rain or cold weather, this smallness was only exacerbated.
Through multiple onsite meetings, we would review design concepts by marking out the actual location of where new elements would go and how they could blur the difference between a walkway and drive. The image below shows what emerged from the design process. We were going to remove some of the driveway, all of the current steps and walkway and redefine the plantings. No Victorian planting concepts – instead a very native plant strategy with lots of perennials and grasses to soften the space. The softening of the space is important because we found that the best way to merge the elements together would be by using pavers and concrete steps.
As you can see from the plant images below, the goal is to bridge the hardscaping with a vibrant life that moves in the wind and creates texture & color through the year.
The pavers, wall and steps were all selected to add a refreshing new look to the house while not getting too far away from the style of it. We kept the color palette in greys, blacks and whites for both a classic and contemporary look.
Plus, everything is sustainable. The plantings are native, the removal of the driveway means less runoff and the hardscaping lets rainwater go into the ground naturally. Everything we removed was recycled at 100%. All of these parts of the project are added value.