Alfresco magazine - Pg 56 / 57 Published:
November/December 2009 Copyright:
Lifestyle Publishing Ltd Author:
Maina Perrot Photographer:
Alex Schanzer Magic Makeovers - Seafront Hillside Garden.
Inspiration is vital in any creative work and particularly so when it comes to landscape designing.
Alex Schanzer's style and work have been deeply influenced by the Brazilian master, Roberto Burle-Marx, an artist and urban space designer with a flair for modernist landscape architecture.
"I share his love of South American plants and the idea of using plants as a colour palette with which to paint the landscape", Alex, from Alex Schanzer Landscaping, says.
The designer's enthusiasm at the opportunity to redesign this seafront hillside garden in Auckland, filled him with gusto and soon enough gave the property a fresh, innovative look.
At the top of his clients wish list was a desire to connect the top area around the house, to the water and create a more family friendly and entertaining setting.The client also wanted to remove an existing concrete pathway that bisected the sloping site. Neighbours had been using it as public access way from the beach to their sections.
The steep hill, the fragility of the slope and the costs involved meant major excation had to be kept to a minimum with mass planting and stepping stone access.
With these factors in mind, Alex chose to link the house to the water via a timber 'jetty' deck, which not only creates an accessway to a series of natural basalt slab stepping stones down the slope to the lower area, but also directs the viewer visually out to the beautiful seascape.
The entertaining area originally was to be decked but this was changed to crushed shell to create another link with the beach area below. The lower section , previously a grass strip, now makes a nice place to relax, with its built in freestanding bench seats that match those in the upper entertaining area.
The site's prevailing sw coastal winds that at times lash the property helped determine which plants to use. " We had to use ones that would cope with the saltwinds, have strong root system that would aid in stopping erosion of the hillside, while still creating the colours and textural forms that i wanted for this particular design" Alex says. "The plant palette is mainly derived from New Zealand natives, but the sculptural accents are provided via the South African natives - Aloe thraskii and Strelitzia nicholai".
Design features include two cantilevered, circular viewing
decks situated on the slope face. Each is surrounded by a vertical ponga wall, which provides protection from the winds even once cut to maximise the views.
"The low sculptural ponga wall is finished with an undulating cut, the form lending itself to the undulating coastline and creating a sense of movement in the landscape".
A tough groundcover variety, of burgundy stoloniferous bromeliad from Brazil, is mounted on the walss for year round colour. " The finished result has achieved the transformation both the client and i had hoped it would", Alex says. "I look forward to revisiting the site once the plants have had some growing time in order to become established and develop into the slice od paradise i know it will become".
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