Before there were kids involved we just sat on the front porch, ignoring the derelict status of our backyard. Our tall fence shielded the neighbors view and, in kind, hid our shame as Landscape Architects, filling out the stereotype of designers who live in un-designed spaces We knew the potential for our space and yet time is and was always the challenge; when and how do you carve out the time to escape work and family priorities in order to redirect the effort necessary to “make” your own space.
We didn’t need much, simplicity and function, with a well-crafted frame would do the trick. I proposed to my family a concept of five rectangles: wood, concrete, copper, turf, and meadow. The children countered with a pirate tree house connected to a princess tower via a rollercoaster… Dad won!
Without a budget to support our vision, we made several decisions that kept costs down. 1. We did all the planning and had everything streamlined in order to ensure an efficient construction process. 2. We took on as much work as possible, from demo to planting. 3. We leveraged our friendships for help with the concrete and sod installation. 4. We recycled the copper screens from a project being demoed downtown. 5. We utilized seeds and propogation for nearly all plants. My wife thought I was crazy the day I showed up and started jabbing sticks into the “meadow” rectangle, I had harvested the “free” tree whips from my cousins property in Frontenac and they quickly established a beautiful scrim of sumac.
The design provides subtle privacy and programmatic clarity…a fancy way to say that I can play catch with my kids and enjoy a glass of wine with my wife.
The perforated copper screens were reclaimed from Minneapolis’ Westminster Church, via the demolition of a project that my former office (Coen + Partners) had designed. The materiality and formal organization reflect our personal love for modern design and (we believe) complement the scale and craftsmanship of our classic Lowry Hill home. The resultant space is contemporary, tranquil, and provides the kids a stellar place to roast marshmallows or create their own art!