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A Plastic Garden


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A Plastic Garden

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he Plastic Garden fractures space and light to create useful, playful space for a young family and the children of their neighborhood.

xcept for the children who played here the neighborhood was bleak and spiritless: a utilitarian subdivision in which the existing forest was clear-cut to a uniform depth behind each equally set back house on each half acre lot. The result was continuous corridors of space between the houses and the forest, lacking privacy, character and utility.

he client's house, conceived in no relation to its site and completely clad in vinyl with few windows or doors, sat upon the opened land like an abandoned plastic toy.

he plan had two objectives: first, to bring the razed woodland back to meet the house, carefully carving from it three irregular descending terraced spaces; and second, to reach out from the plastic house with playful, light-transforming, plastic panels which would engage the woodland, as well as the stone and wood constructions of the garden.

ow the static patterns of the neighborhood are counterpoised by the complex and playful spatial geometry of the garden; and a funny kind of balance is achieved between the plastic house and its site. Here the garden creates an intriguing entry by composing transparent, translucent and opaque colored panels with the existing woodland, morning light, new deck and gravel terrace.

oth synthetic (derived from the house) and "natural" (derived from the woods) materials play with the light and are used as edges to volumes which have a distinct quality that is of this place. The deck’s overhead structure is tilted and warped, assembled to evoke the classic children’s game of "pick up sticks," but also as the vines grow to provide welcome shade on the deck.

he character of the design is revealed in this animated, shoji-like experience of birches behind the playful Plexiglas layers.

his Plastic Garden is a kind of wacky colored origami into which one enters. The experience unfolds within the garden, redefining the outer context of woods, subdivision and even sky by coloring, blocking and/or silhouetting them; and forming an inspiring, useful spatial experience for the family and the children who play here.

he Plastic Garden has received several awards including a regional design award for residential design from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects and a national design award from Landscape Architecture magazine. It has been published and discussed in numerous periodicals and books, including The New Tech Garden (2001) and Designed Landscape Forum 1 (1998).

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