Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Grubby Mess to Persian Bliss; Water, Shade and Fruit Trees Transform a Drab Courtyard into a Haven with Privacy

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Grubby Mess to Persian Bliss; Water, Shade and Fruit Trees Transform a Drab Courtyard into a Haven with Privacy

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

SIX WEEKS before these pictures were taken, this Chiswick courtyard was a sad, little-used space with a floor of grubby, ridged decking and brick walls of mixed provenance.

Now it has trickling water, two seating areas, a space for cooking and a shady arbour for dining and entertaining, as well as olive trees, a grapevine, fragrant roses and a citrus tree.

"We've taken the principles of the ancient Persian gardens -- shade, water, perfume, fruiting trees and places to sit and reflect," explains designer Claire Mee, who was asked to create a garden following the redevelopment of the house.

They were spurred on by the news that a three-storey block of flats was about to be built directly behind the garden -- a more modern dilemma -- and they needed some screening. In a small space, people are cautious about putting in too much. "But the more you put in, the bigger the space becomes," says Mee. "You're leading the eye around and different elements are enticing you in. You need different levels, too, because there's nothing more boring than a dead, flat space."

You also need to unify the space so that all those different elements don't result in a hotchpotch.

"The messy brick walls were rendered using white cement mixed with sand, which gives a lovely, soft ochre colour," says Mee. This delivers the Mediterranean feeling the clients wanted and ties in with the colour of the paved travertine floor. "People think that travertine is impractical, but I find it easy to maintain, plus it stays cleaner than other stones."

PRIVACY from the proposed block of flats is provided by a customised arbour, given due importance by raising it two steps on to a deck, rather like a plinth.

"We used cross beams to create a patterned shade, so there is an attractive slatted effect on the dining table. A nice touch, installed by the clients, is a metal hanging rail more usually seen in kitchens, but used here to suspend lanterns. To create more seating space, we made built-in benches around two sides, and added banquette cushions to tie in with another bench on the opposite side of the courtyard, which catches the late afternoon sun. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.