Clients with sky-high expectations, an extensive brief and a difficult site meant that Steve Taylor of COS Design had his work cut out for him on this Port Philip Bay project. But his design firm nailed the brief and took out the prestigious Allan Correy Award for Design Excellence 2015 for their efforts. Taylor explains how the company went about creating this unique landscape.
The north-western views of the Port Philip Bay region are undoubtedly the hero of the Atkinson Pontifex-built property and the proposed main entertaining space was positioned to maximise this key aspect. As part of the architectural brief, we were left with a fall of 5.1 m from the front door to the footpath and only a distance of 17 m to achieve the height transition. Central to this space the clients were looking to integrate a family swimming pool and spa as a part of the front entertaining space.
Our response was to design a pool that is truly one of a kind: a pool that became a part of the guest entrance experience; a pool that doubled as a part of the elaborate retaining system; a pool that looked amazing from the balconies above; and a pool that created an architectural statement from all areas of the garden and streetscape.
The pool originally sat 450 mm higher than it sits now and there were two smaller acrylic windows. A platform was constructed prior to the designs being finished and the clients felt uncomfortable being so exposed to the street so the pool and levels were redesigned and a larger acrylic window was integrated. The spa was designed to create a reflection pond and the floating bench seat enhances the functionality of the area. The white floating concrete slab separates the pool and spa and provides access to the sundeck, becoming the real point of interest.
The front yard has been extensively terraced with contrasting retaining walls, while cantilevered floating concrete landings and bluestone steps manage the pedestrian entry, which has a rise of just over 5.1 m. Hamilton Landscapes handled the garden construction. The foliage is all about contrasting colour, forms and textures that not only helps with the large site slope but adds streetscape interest for guests entering the home. Due to the front door being elevated 5.1 m above the footpath level, privacy was an issue as the clients didn’t want to be exposed to the street; however, they wanted to maintain the views so along with Lump Sculpture Studio we created a bespoke feature light box of the local windswept tea-tree, which comes to life at night and pays respect to the indigenous plant life of the area.
The pool maximises the views and becomes an architectural feature of the pedestrian entry with the introduction of the large acrylic window. The spa doubles as a reflection pond and connects in a design sense to the northern courtyard reflection pond. They are separated and softened by a forest of maples and white round concrete steppers and ground covers while the timber bench seats add functionality to both zones.
The front streetscape is a combined palette of mixed blue tones, green and black. Against the footpath Strelitzia reginae has been planted en masse in front of a rendered retaining wall. Below the custom mail box the garden bed has been filled with a wave of Lomandra confertifolia ‘Little Pal’. Clipped Buxus sempervirens balls rise from a bed of Ophiopogon japonicus nigra while a feature Dracaena draco and Aloe barberae sit either side of the entry. Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigiata’ is then staggered within Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’ along the streetfront.
A feature Aloe tree in line with the front gate creates a striking visual impact for visitors and is visible from the street. It sits in a bed of wandering Blue Chalk Sticks. Cycas revoluta lines the feature glass pool wall and contrasts with the pool and pebbles behind. A circular incision in the first large polished white concrete pad houses a feature Buxus sempervirens sphere.
The boundaries of the property have been softened with green, including a strip of Ficus. The pool zone transitions to the rear of the property through a forest of Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ along white round concrete steppers and ground covers.
Although a highly structural concept, the form is balanced with the rich plant palette, which will only mature into a more striking landscape given time.
In summary, the pool creates the social and visual hub to a very unique and difficult site and the technicality, precision design documentation and coordination has made this pool a feature we are extremely proud of.
Reflecting on success
The pool creates an architectural statement from every area of the garden and streetscape. The space has been extensively terraced, placing the pool as a central part of the guest entrance experience with the incorporation of a large acrylic window. The views of the pool from the balcony above are equally amazing, particularly as the spa has been designed to double as a night-time reflection pond.
As the focal point of the design, Taylor and his design team concluded that only the very highest quality mosaic would do justice to the beautiful pool and spa, specifying Bisazza Gemme mosaic for the spa and Bisazza Vetricolor for the pool — a decision his discerning clients were very happy about.
“The choice of material for the pool and spa was critical, especially with the large window in the pool making everything so much more visible. We wanted something that feels special, and the aesthetic qualities of the Bisazza mosaic helped us to achieve the perfect look,” said Taylor.
The results speak for themselves: a clean, sharp, modern take on a resort-style garden with all of the client’s expectations exceeded on every level, achieved on one of the most difficult and unique sites imaginable.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the project has been recognised by a string of awards from AILDM (The Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers), HIA (The Housing Industry Association) and Landscaping Victoria.
Winner of Allan Correy Award for Design Excellence, awarded to the best entry across all categories — COS Design
Best in category, Landscape Design over $150K — COS Design
Gold Medal, Best Residential Design over $150K — COS Design
Winner for Landscape Design over 200 m2 — COS Design
Commended for Plants in the Landscape — COS Design
Winner for Hard Structures in the Landscape — Hamilton Landscapes
Winner for Residential Landscape Construction $300K — Hamilton Landscapes
Winner for Landscape of the Year — Hamilton Landscapes
Winner of Best Outdoor project — Atkinson Pontifex
Design: COS Design
Builders: Atkinson Pontifex
Landscaping: Hamilton Landscapes
Photography: DPI Photography
Phone: 02 9838 9233
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