American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2006 Professional Awards
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The Passage is the renovation of a private house and garden located on a 10-acre wooded hillside in New England.  New landscape spaces include a parking court, entry garden, courtyard garden, perennial borders, woodland path, and a meditation space – a circular terrace overlooking a vast, 30’ deep glacial kettlehole. (Drawing by Horiuchi Solien Inc.)
A contemporary house and landscape designed for two practicing Buddhists, The Passage draws inspiration from the ancient Japanese stroll garden.  The “roji,” or “passageway,” was designed as a series of meditative experiences along a path to the tea ceremony. (Drawing by Horiuchi Solien Inc.)
New garden elements include a koi pond, Ofuro (soaking tub), Tokonoma (ceremonial planter), three Tsukubai (water basins), The Akari (lantern and outdoor shower), and the Tobi-ishi (stone path).  In traditional Japanese gardens, Tsukubai are the chiseled stone basins in which the guest washes his hands – a physical and symbolic ritual of cleansing before proceeding with the tea ceremony. (Drawing by Horiuchi Solien Inc.)
As one approaches the property, a curving fieldstone wall emerges from the woods. (Photo by Brian Vanden Brink)

The wall encloses a circular parking court, and echoes the bowl shape of the nearby kettlehole. (Photo by Brian Vanden Brink)

The new entry is defined by the first of three cast concrete Tsukubai -- The Raincatcher – which collects falling water from the roof. (Photo by Brian Vanden Brink)
Water overflows from The Raincatcher into a copper ring filled with washed stones. (Photo by Brian Vanden Brink)
One enters the new courtyard garden and passes into a lush, dream-like setting.  A grove of shadblow creates clouds of white blossoms in the spring, dappled shade in the summer, and a blaze of scarlet foliage in the fall.  Woodland bulbs and groundcovers fill the cracks in the native fieldstone paving, creating a living carpet. (Photo by Brian Vanden Brink)  

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The Passage, New England
Horiuchi Solien Inc., Falmouth, Massachusetts

"A great site plan that creates wonderful moments. The planting plan creates a lush, natural feeling."

— 2006 Professional Awards Jury Comments

Project Scope and Intent
The Passage is a collaboration among owners, landscape architect, architect, and artists – a very personal garden experience that explores movement in time, space, and spirit.  Practicing Buddhists, the two owners possess a profound, spiritual connection to the natural landscape.  Their garden appeals as much to the senses as it does to the mind.  The owner likens the experience of the garden to her professional work as a psychotherapist– a journey through the unknown where there is constant discovery and new-found understanding.  The new garden accommodates the everyday functions of family life (gathering, dining, bathing), while nurturing delight, surprise, and contemplation.

The project is a private garden located on 10-acre site in New England.  The existing house was built by the owners over 20 years ago on a hillside of undeveloped woodland.  The dramatic effects of glaciation are found everywhere – huge boulders brought from far away emerge from the earth, while the rolling hilltops and valleys reflect the scouring of the receding ice flows.  The house overlooks a vast kettlehole over 30’ deep.

Architectural renovations include an expanded main house, the conversion of a private temple to a guest house, and a “bridge” to a new bedroom wing and main entry.  The new landscape draws inspiration from the ancient Japanese tea garden.  Called “roji”, or “passageway”, the tea garden was designed not to be viewed from a single location, but as a series of experiences along a path leading to the tea ceremony.  Landscape spaces include a parking court and entry garden, a stream garden, courtyard garden, perennial borders, woodland path, and meditation circle.  Garden elements include a koi pond, Ofuro (soaking tub), Tokonoma (ceremonial planter), Tsukubai (water basins), The Akari (lantern/outdoor shower), and The Tobi-ishi (stone path).

While rooted in the tradition of Japanese gardens, The Passage illustrates a design approach that does not rely on simple replication of history.  There are no torii gates or arched bridges.  A contemporary house and landscape, it explores and reinterprets traditional forms, materials, and rituals.  In The Passage, a wood arbor with mortise and tenon joinery is translated into a grid of copper piping.  Hand-chiseled stone water basins are transformed into cast concrete structures.  Rice paper lanterns inspire a light tower made of wood slats.  The traditional garden stepping stones become a path of cut bluestone paving.  The Tokonoma, a ceremonial niche, extends outside to create a planter for bamboo. 

The Passage demonstrates the important role that landscape architects can have in heightening our awareness of the natural environment.  As in traditional Japanese gardens, The Passage abstracts and celebrates natural features and processes.  The concrete water basins, so distinctive in their form and color, recall the foreign boulders deposited on the site by the glaciers.  Rainwater cascades from a 40’ long roof into a basin, and spills into a ring of pebbles.  Carefully chosen materials link the garden to the rhythms of nature and the passage of time:  the seasonal color of shadblow, the sound of bamboo leaves in the summer winds, the patina on weathered copper.

Special Factors
The project reflects a true collaboration between landscape architect and artist.  First conceived in the master plan by the landscape architect, the garden elements (the three water basins and light tower) were then designed, detailed, and sited together with the artists.  Materials, forms, and workmanship create a common landscape vocabulary throughout the garden.  Copper pipe used in the wisteria arbor reappears in the Garden Sink, The Akari, and the ring of pebbles around The Raincatcher.  Pigments in the concrete complement stone paving and plantings. 

Illumination of The Akari (outdoor shower) presented a considerable technical challenge.  Typical lighting solutions were not feasible – conventional underwater fixtures require continuous water contact for cooling, while other fixtures designed for “wet-dry” applications pose heat or shock hazards.  The landscape architect detailed a fiber-optic system which emits a safe, but powerful beam of light from a small crack in the fieldstone paving.


Project Resources


Artist (lantern/shower):
Eck Follen, Birth of Venus Studios

Artist (concrete water basins):
Charles Swanson, Birth of Venus Studios

Foster Associates

Landscape contractor:
Francisco Tavares, Inc.



An arbor designed out of common copper plumbing pipe withstands the intense twisting of the wisteria vines. (Photo by Brian Vanden Brink)
Within the shade of the shadblow grove, one views out to the perennial garden. (Photo by Brian Vanden Brink)  
The Garden Sink, the second Tsukubai, incorporates copper detailing of the shower and arbor. (Photo by Brian Vanden Brink)
Perennial beds and lawn paths flow out of the courtyard in long undulating drifts. (Photo by Brian Vanden Brink)
Within the courtyard, the Akari is both an outdoor shower... (Photo by Brian Vanden Brink)
...and a light tower.  Inspired by traditional rice paper lanterns, the shower uses copper pipe details found in the wisteria arbor, and is illuminated through a custom fiber optic system.  Bluestone pavers extend from the courtyard garden onto the woodland path. (Photo by Brian Vanden Brink)
At the end of the path, a series of stone steps descends ten feet down to The Meditation Circle, a small terrace overlooking the woods, where the third Tsukubai -- The Woodland Bowl -- rests.  Sitting on the rim of the vast kettle hole, one is consumed by nature, and moves effortlessly from the worldly to the spiritual. (Photo by Brian Vanden Brink)
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