Borrowed Landscapes

The Art of Borrowed Landscapes.

The principles of “Borrowed Landscapes” have been practised for thousands of years and are most prevalent in traditional Chinese garden designs. The concept is relatively simple as its is essentially about using a view or surrounding landscape area as your own. By opening your home to a view or neighbouring environment we improve the quality of our spaces and give the illusion of a much larger place.
While simple in principle it can be quite difficult to put into practice. Unless your property is next to a garden reserve or on a beach front, it can be difficult to secure an adjacent space or landscape as your own without sacrificing your own sense of privacy and security.
AT WOLF Architects our in-house team of landscape designers are avid fans of Chinese garden design principles. With every project we undertake an extensive site analysis that includes a study of the neighbouring surroundings. While good views will naturally be taken advantage of, we try to find opportunities in mature trees or interesting structures close by that may be borrowed. The challenge is to obscure the boundaries and blur the lines between what is ours and what is to be borrowed. It is often a matter of careful design layering of outdoor areas with plants and trees. The ideal landscape or garden area is one where the boundary is undefined or not visible. You should be able to look out of your windows and see only green spaces that seemingly extend beyond your boundary.
When people view the WOLF Architects project portfolio they sometimes get the impression that a dream home can only be built on large acreages or in scenic locations. Many of our projects are built on standard suburban blocks, just by employing the art of borrowed landscaping we give each project an immense sense of privacy and the illusion of being the only home in the area.
Borrowed landscapes come with some risk as you don’t always have control of the landscapes that you are dependent on. We may design an upper floor window to be perfectly in view of a tree that may eventually die or be removed. Nevertheless, this concept of utilising the context beyond the immediate site is valuable and something that has added value to many WOLF projects.
Next time you venture into your garden, pay attention to anything interesting you can see beyond your own fence and think about how you might borrow that to enhance and extend your own space.

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