New Project Commission for Choros Landscape Architects

New Project Commission for Choros Landscape Architects

May 1, 2014

We have been asked to design a scheme that will allow an opportunity for car parking at the forecourt to No’s 2 and 3 Mulberry Cottages, Nup End which are Grade II Listed properties designed by Edward Lutyens.

The cottages are set back from the road and have a large front garden. The garden is partially screened from the road by an informal strip of planting (self sown on one side and hedge scrub on the other). There are two self sown ash trees in the garden.

The proposed sketch design aims to focus attention on the design of the Lutyens cottages and their characteristic courtyard with the landscape designed as a ‘setting’ for the listed building. The gardens have been designed in the character of a small country house in the style of those designed by Edward Lutyens and Getrude Jekyll who collaborated on many designs together.

The courtyard has been planned to echo the symmetry of the cottages and this is reflected in the detail design and layout of the hard surfaces. The garden is set out with a central path that leads from the road across a square. The path is aligned centrally between two cottages and eventually divides to provide access to each property.

The central square is the dominant feature with two additional areas of paving to either side. The focus is on the central area. The square and additional paved areas have been designed to accommodate four cars (the statutory requirement allowing two for each property) and the necessary manoeuvring space. The square and its adjacent hard surfaces are enclosed by an evergreen hedge that divides the square from the more intimate garden areas.

The gardens closest to the properties provide an opportunity for more ornamental planting/grass areas in keeping with the character of many Gertrude Jekyll designs. The hedge line will enclose the ornamental and more private areas and also provide a backcloth to the planting which is a theme also echoed in many of Gertrude Jekyll and Edward Lutyens work. The hedge defines and tightly encloses the square thereby drawing attention to its detail.

Access to the square from the road is via the entrance driveway. The engineer designed crossover does not unfortunately align exactly with the central axis of the two buildings. However, the formal character of the design has been retained through the detail design of the paving which accentuates the key axis.

The hard surface areas have been carefully designed to reflect the character of a Lutyens and Jekyll country house.

This has been achieved by creating a small scale ‘garden’ paving design that echoes the typical stone and brick work used to create paved areas and to add detail interest. The materials however, have been adapted to accommodate the requirements of vehicle use.

With this in mind we have selected a porphyry stone in a variety of sizes and tones to echo the original character of the garden designs. The porphyry has warmth and a subtle tone of colour that we feel will complement the colours of the Lutyens roofline and contrast with the white walls of the building. The porphyry is also a very dense material and is resistant to staining and so is a practical material to use in this location.

The larger sized paving is used on the main pathway with a slighter smaller paving used as an edge to the square design. The broader areas are in filled with a smaller and narrower units of the same material to echo the original brick/tile paving used in Gertrude Jekyll garden.

The design of the paving has been kept deliberately simple with changes of direction, size and tone offering interest. Two large solid stone squares located centrally on the path and square connect the two areas visually.  The car parking bays have been deliberately left undefined. The design is in keeping with a garden and not a car park.

The two existing ash trees are self sown and it is not appropriate to locate this large growing species a so close to the buildings. The branches of the trees have a tendency to be brittle and are likely to shed in high winds as the trees grow. This scheme offers an opportunity to select more appropriate and attractive species, such a Sorbus variety. The two trees should be removed whether the scheme is approved or not.

In summary, we feel the proposed design very much echoes the style and character of the Edward Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll designs and is in keeping with the character and design of the listed cottages.

  • The formal design and split hard and soft areas combined with distinctive hedge reflect a positive and development in the design and character of the existing gardens.
  • The removal of the two ash trees and their replacement by three more appropriate native species will help protect the long-term condition of the cottages. Their replacement by three more attractive and appropriate species will be a positive contribution to the gardens.
  • The thickening of the existing hedgerow with additional native species and the planting of the three new trees will also be in keeping with and beneficial to the rural character of the existing road.

Combined we feel that the proposed scheme provides a coherent and positive design that allows for the sympathetic inclusion of car parking within a garden courtyard for the benefit of the residents and an opportunity to restore the gardens and consequently help protect the setting of the Listed buildings.