Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Siting the House

It won't be too long now until the weather gets warmer and things start to green up. That has gotten me in the mood to think in more detail about the landscape plan for our house.

The way a building is understood is affected by the topography, the approach, and the way plant material is situated. In our case, topography is what makes our site unique. Sitting 130' above the river gives us some long views but also means our house is visible from several interesting vantages.

It's been a bit of a game to me to find our house from various long views. The orange fencing in the front yard makes that easier to do at the moment. The long views that are most interesting to me are seen from the Dooley Mansion at Maymont, Kanawha Trace, and the Boulevard Bridge.

Those are fun to see, but the approach views from each way on Riverside Drive are the ones that impacted the design. Arriving from the west is very dramatic. It brings you under the train bridge and 80 feet up a steep hill - facing directly at the northeast corner of our house. The window box on that corner provides a focal point as you climb the hill, but more importantly gives us a great view down the road and to the river.

Arriving from the other direction, the house still sits up several feet above the street but emerges gradually from behind the neighbor's dogwoods. It is also obvious that the front of our house aligns with the houses on either side. Each side of the house matches the respective scale of the neighboring house.

The hardscape plan for our yard is still up in the air a bit. Early on, I created a plan to change the sidewalks and driveway, but now is the time to lock it down. The form of the house is complete and it is easier to imagine how plant material and exterior lighting should work.

It helped me greatly to have my first discussion with a landscape architect today. Preston Dalrymple has a great understanding of plant material and we've worked together on several projects over the years. This landscape plan will be something Carrie and I can implement over time.

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