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Hilgard Garden – An Extended Outdoor Living Space

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Winner of the 2015 ASLA-NCC Top Residential Design Award, this stunning outdoor space successfully brings together an age-old Zen atmosphere, strikingly modern angles and shapes, and a mix of complementing materials in a creative garden design.

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Located in the backyard of a townhouse built in 1964 in Berkeley, California, this outdoor area provides an isolated space for relaxation away from the busy city while at the top it offers breathtaking views across the bay, with the Sutro Tower and San Francisco visible in the distance. The 5 Elements Design Studio completed the project in collaboration with the YR Architecture + Design and Landscape Architect Mary Barensfeld.

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A meandering ramp through aromatic groundcover and the limbs of three Japanese maples presents itself as a garden path in a Zen-like retreat. The garden, the back yard of a 1964 Berkeley, CA townhouse, traverses a steeply sloping site to provide access to an upper level patio with views of Sutro Tower and San Francisco. To avoid swallowing large swathes of the backyard square footage with a conventional stair, angular, board-form concrete walls with occasional steel armor slice their way up the hill while providing terraced planting areas. Visible and accessible to the existing townhouse living room, the lower level white granite patio unfurls its reflecting pool to greet visitors. Water-jet cut, patterned weathering steel screens serve as both bamboo planters and screening between the neighboring townhouses’ rear yards.

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