Valley of the Giants

The steeply sloping site, regularly battered by heavy, salt-laden winds, was previously off-limits to the client’s young family. Thanks to an exhaustive excavation and reclamation process, it is now the perfect retreat.

To achieve the flat and highly-workable design space, more than 400m3 of earth was excavated. The key to reclaiming the 460m2 space was careful attention to sustainable design and construction practices. It offered the rare opportunity to remodel the garden prior to the architectural overhaul of the residence. The spatial arrangement had to take into consideration potential elements of the new building, rather than be dictated to by an existing footprint.

The client brief called for a large grassed area for family football and a reflection pond with water channels within the walls, providing a soft sound and plays of water both day and night. A shade structure and outdoor dining area were also on the desirable list, along with lighting to enhance the space at night. What the client hadn’t expected was the innovative storage solutions brought about by building into the retaining walls under the staircases at either end of the garden, concealed by over-sized teak doors.

Indeed, every aspect of the design is over-sized and yet in perfect proportion. The hard elements are beautifully integrated and executed with frontline architectural coastal planting, balanced by more naturalistic planting on the upper, battered slopes.

The planting is enriched by Random Ashlar Coolum walling as a backdrop on the vertical planes. With the use of Travertine on the ground planes providing a sophisticated, fresh contrast to the Coolum walling, the two perfectly complementing the open coastal setting.