Joining 2 Properties in Design & Function – RB Project #1.1

Design · Written by Roger

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This Project’s Different

Over the next few weeks I’d like to show you the evolution of this project. The situation and design challenge were quite…unique.

The design client lives in a house behind the fence and evergreen trees in the picture above. The fence is attached to a timber retaining wall. The lawn area you see in the foreground is also the client’s property and sits 7 to 8′ lower than where the house is.

If this property has one owner, why is it so divided?

Evidently the previous owner bought this lower neighboring property, which had an old house on it. They demolished the house and “annexed” the land. What were two separate properties became one.

From inside the house you could not even see the lower property.

The only access down to this property was through two wooden arbors. One arbor led you down a slope of grass (top picture, right side); the other down a series of steps to an old, dilapidated tennis court (bottom picture).

The homeowners requested a new design that integrated the two levels of property, both visually and functionally. They have 4 small children and this lower area was to provide a large and level lawn for play. The tennis court was to be renovated and a cabana-like building was to be constructed near the court.


Once we had all the project requirements clearly spelled out, the design process began.

  • A base map was drawn to scale showing all existing features on the site including the large trees.
  • Elevation measurements were taken and plotted on the drawing.
  • An inventory list was made of all existing plantings and any other materials that could be of potential use in the re-design, such as the decorative Walpole fence and arbors.

Already I could see this was going to be a challenging, yet rewarding project.

Working with the base map drawing, topographic plan and a roll of tracing paper, I put together a few general concepts of how the space and grades could be arranged to meet their requirements. Designing freely with lines and shapes, but without detail, is the best strategy to create several ideas quickly.

In this next post the project sitework gets underway.

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