The 2015 CTC&G Innovation in Design Winners: Landscape
Outdoor design shines in a series of landscapes with green elements and architectural flourishes
Winner: Artemis Landscape Architects,Inc. with Freddy's Landscape Co.
A "green" pool is a natural fit in this lush landscape
Innovation sometimes leans both forward and back. Tara Vincenta, principal at Artemis Landscape Architects, was developing the master plan for her clients’ nine-acre estate when a swimming pool became a priority. A decaying, ’50s-era pond provided a jumping-off spot. “The existing pond, replete with classical statues of the four seasons, was crumbling,” says Vincenta. “We imagined something with a nod to the classic pond, but with an updated contemporary feel and interactive nature.” The clients suggested going back to nature to create a totally chemical-free pool. “They wanted to do something different and put the challenge in my lap,” continues Vincenta.
Australian natives, the clients are plant people with a keen appreciation of the area’s native habitats. They suggested the innovative German-designed BioNova pond system, where swimming-pool water is filtered through a system of plants and limestone. While similar systems have been used abroad for decades, this would be the first BioNova pool installed in Fairfield County.
Freddy Miraballes, of Freddy’s Landscape Company, was already working with the designer. The two devoted a year to researching the construction methods for establishing healthy bio-balance and ongoing maintenance requirements. Miraballes installed the first BioNova pool in Connecticut for a doctor at Yale. For this project, he constructed the pool and elegant masonry, and installed the plants, lighting and fencing. “Basically it is an enclosed wetlands, as simple as that,” says Miraballes. “You build it, you plant it, the plants do the filtering: It’s a balanced ecosystem.”
Alongside a beach and large grassy entertaining area, “the pool just floats in the lawn,” notes Vincenta. “I wanted to make it a very experiential place where the family could interact with nature.”
Innovator 2: Gregory Lombardi Design
From a blank canvas, a series of garden rooms grows and thrives
Gregory Lombardi Design’s winning landscape was designed to complement the impressive scale and formality of a new but classic residence. Lombardi came to the project through architect Jerry Hupy of Shope Reno Wharton and was given a clean slate: Not a tree was standing.
The innovation is subtle; the challenge was how to set this coastal home into a landscape that was not only fresh but also reflected the owners’ style while maintaining a harmonious whole. The owners are not garden people; although the Arts and Crafts-style residence suggested something along the lines of an English cottage garden, they wanted none of it. “The clients were looking for something a little cleaner,” says Lombardi, “with big simple spaces. But it’s not about being understated.” The designer developed a sense of the dramatic while studying in Rome. “I’m a storyteller,” Lombardi says. “I have to look at what narrative I want to tell and then complete it.”
So Lombardi divided the property into a series of rooms, with a grid of trees on one side, a mini orchard of crabapple on another, and a park-like lawn leading down from the arrival court at the front door. “People find comfort in traditional forms,” says Lombardi. “I like to manipulate them for effect—sometimes happy, sometimes dramatic. You should see how excited people get when they enter a grid of trees; those are things that can really excite.”
Innovator 3: Devore Associates, LLC
Architecture and landscape merge in this pastoral New England landscape
“This project was about bringing an existing farmhouse into the 21st century,” says Diane Devore of Devore Associates, LLC. When the clients fell in love with an old farmstead in Redding, they brought in an architect to expand the house and Devore to design a courtyard, a pool, and to create a harmonious and sustainable whole.
From the start, it was a team project between clients, architect and landscape designer. Because the building and grounds construction all happened together, the design is seamless. Red flowers in a perennial border play off the russet of the barns across the drive. Custom-designed gates echo the mullion pattern from a window. Courtyard walls were constructed at the same time and of the same stone as the masonry of the house.
Plantings are a cozy amalgam of European sensibilities, with climbing roses and hydrangea against gray stone walls. Low boxwood parterres keep in character with the historic farmhouse. A reading terrace is planted with white and low-growing plants, just off the breakfast room. The fanciful roof design of a tool shed beside the swimming pool was borrowed from Dumbarton Oaks, the romantic, early 20th-century garden in Washington, D.C. Classic French boxes planted with lemon trees line the pool. Beyond, an old orchard dots a lawn that blends out into the surrounding woodland. “It’s all about these little intimate areas,” says Devore. “It’s a real gardener’s garden.”