Thursday, 12 April 2012

Contemporary Garden Design - Part II

In addition to architects like Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius and Frank Lloyd Wright the Modernist movement also spawned leading contemporary garden designers.

Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx used tropical plants planted in blocks as structural elements in the garden. Marx was a gifted painter and his landscapes demonstrate a skillful use of colour and abstract flowing forms. Marx also designed beautiful pavements for public spaces decorated with colourful abstract stone mosaics.

Copacabana Boardwalk, Rio de Janiero - Roberto Burle Marx

Roberto Burle Marx

American landscape architect Dan Kiley’s work whilst embracing Modernist principles is completely different in style to Burle Marx. Kiley’s work is characterized by strict geometric layouts. Like Le Corbusier and Andre le Notre, Kiley believed that man was a part of nature, but he did not want to copy or imitate the curvilinear forms of nature, instead he imposed mathematical order to the landscape. Kiley’s landscapes overstepped their boundaries creating ambiguous relationships in the landscape and the idea of the borrowed view.

Nations Bank Plaza - Dan Kiley

Fountain Place, Dallas - Dan Kiley

Garrett Eckbo who studied and worked with Dan Kiley believed that landscape architecture could be used to engineer social change. His vision was of the interaction of art and science to create environments that were functional and livable. Ekbo used Modernist theory based on a multi-disciplinary design approach, with landscape design as a vehicle for social change.

Private Garden - Garrett Ekbo

Denver Botanic Gardens - Garrett Ekbo

Cranston Swimming Pool - Garrett Ekbo

Contemporary garden designers such as John Brookes popularised the idea of the garden as an outdoor room. The terrace or patio became an additional entertaining space and the whole garden a place for enjoyment often featuring a swimming pool, tennis court and Jacuzzi. The overall look was chic and modern. The fussy lines and planting schemes of the more traditional garden styles were replaced by sharply defined spaces with strong geometric elements and architectural planting. Contemporary gardens feature clean crisp colours with strong contrasts, architectural plants and grasses, and minimal but striking accessories.

Private Garden - John Brookes

Denmans Garden - John Brookes

Private Garden - John Brookes

The term contemporary garden design is often used as shorthand for gardens featuring painted walls, stainless steel, glass and architectural planting. In reality, contemporary garden design is an evolution of style and taste and reflects modern materials and preferences. Contemporary gardens are usually a blend of styles and influences. Flowing organic shapes are just as relevant to contemporary garden design as the ubiquitous rendered blockwork wall with steel water feature. Some contemporary garden designers prefer to use concrete, steel and glass others use natural materials in simple, elegant ways to achieve a different but equally contemporary style.

Here's a contemporary garden I designed.

If you need help designing your garden please feel free to email me You can visit my Web site and see some of my completed projects and get a bit more information.

Here's a link to Contemporary Garden Design Part 1

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