Keith LeBlanc Landscape Architecture, Boston USA
The modern aesthetic of this striking home was embraced by the landscape architect during the renovation of this coastal garden. The design of this renovated landscape unifies the site by embracing the distinctive architecture and existing plant palette while incorporating contemporary standards of environmental stewardship. The resultant garden is a contemporary landscape informed by the site's modernist past.
—2010 Professional Awards Jury
This 1.7-acre property is set within a series of narrow residential sites that line the Pacific coast. The existing landscape exhibited little relation to the modernist architecture and little cohesion in its own right. The planting design was dominated by a collection of haphazardly placed tropical plants accumulated by the previous owner over several decades. The collection had been poorly maintained and had become overgrown through the years. Like the planting, large expanses of degraded hardscape materials in the courtyard and driveway contributed to an air of neglect throughout the property.
The landscape architect harnessed the strong planar forms of the architecture to create equally bold exterior spaces. At the parking court, offset panels of permeable paving extend the language of the rooftop planes to the ground. In the central courtyard, similar panels of recycled concrete pavers are set at right angles creating a staggered garden path that leads visitors toward the main house.
Redwood, stone, and glass, a palette established by the architecture, was introduced into the landscape in a variety of unexpected ways. At the pool, these materials were layered to create a striking counterpoint to the house. A wooden deck creates a horizontal platform which is punctured by a pool framed with a monolithic stone coping. Fading from dark to light, recycled glass tiles reverse the expected gradient as they descend into the pool heightening the shadow line created by the overhanging stone coping.
The materials of the architecture were further incorporated into the garden through the careful insertion of salvaged redwood and translucent glass panels throughout the site. These panels bridge landscape and architecture by defining outdoor spaces, providing privacy, channeling views and creating simple planes that become dynamically activated through their interaction with the patterns of light and shadow cast from adjacent plant material.
The modernist aesthetic also informs the specifics of the planting design. Palms, flax, and papyrus planted beside the redwood and glass panels were selected for their ability to create crisp, bold shadow patterns. Both along the redwood panels and the ocean terrace, massings of a single color create textural volumes that allow the landscape to achieve the same bold impact as the architecture. These massings contrast with the patchwork of varied sedums which frame the private roof deck above the master suite.
Embracing preservation was the first step in developing an environmentally sensible site design. By working with the existing home and plant stock the landscape architect was able to reduce the overall levels of waste material by incorporating salvaged materials throughout the landscape design.
The original concrete pavers were one of several materials that were salvaged and reused throughout the site. Relaid, these pavers form the staggered garden path which crosses the central courtyard. Similarly, the redwood and glass panels were constructed from salvaged planking saved during the concurrent architectural renovation. In addition, existing trees and shrubs were tagged, cataloged, and reused in order to significantly reduce the amount of new plant material introduced into the new planting design.
Reducing the levels of impermeable surfacing was also a major goal of the landscape plan. This task was accomplished in a number of ways. An existing asphalt driveway and parking court were removed in favor of a reinforced grass drive and a parking court set with permeable paving. Reinforced grass was again used at the south access drive, allowing infiltration to occur where previously a compacted dirt driveway had channeled runoff directly toward the ocean. On-site infiltration was also increased by the removal of concrete paving around the pool and reduction of the amount of concrete pavers in the central courtyard. Finally, the green roof also contributes to a reduction in runoff in this area.
Keith LeBlanc Landscape Architecture, Inc.
Keith LeBlanc, ASLA
Heimberg Construction, Santa Barbara, CA USA
Cal-Western Landscape, Santa Barbara, CA USA