Willow Residence

Brooklyn, NY

The design for Willow Residence is built upon the rustic nature of existing Brooklyn carriage house yard. The client started the work with a do-it-yourself vision of a simple, gravel-filled court. We selected light (high albedo) stone and added a seating area terrace of crab orchard sandstone with edges that lock into the gravel field. Prior to spreading the gravel, work was done enhance sub-grade drainage. Three quarters of the site is permeable as a result of the combined pea gravel and planted areas. New white concrete sphere planters combined with the client’s terra-cotta pots add color and define the seating area.

The planted rings punctuate and add life to the gravel field. These round moss mounds continue a pattern of circular elements found throughout the client’s home. Light fixtures, sculpture, and horse carriage rings began to narrate the landscape. Re-purposed weathered steel bands were used to house the planted rings, taking inspiration from weathered historic carriage horse rings found embedded within the site’s walls. Varied ring size and placement relates to the light fixture in the adjacent kitchen area. The gridded crab orchard stone references the geometries found on the back window pane of the house.

Inspired by the landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, an existing gate is at once highlighted and distinguished with two espaliered star magnolias. The gate suggests a secret garden on the other side. The project re-enlivens this Brooklyn brownstone - demonstrating how a carefully planned design can render a small urban garden far more comfortable, functional, and relatively maintenance free. Re-use of on-site materials limited the environmental impact of the project.

NYASLA: Small Landscape Project Merit Award