One of my favourite things is when urban spaces seamlessly integrate nature and architecture. Here’s a Toronto backyard, designed by Elise Shelley, that does just that:
The deck and walkway look as though they were designed to respect nature’s space. The concrete modestly snakes around the yard, acting like it’s just a temporary passerby. Making the tree level with the deck and elevating the bed of plants to knee height also serve to make the greenery an equal partner in this backyard’s design. Shelley’s design is, according to her website, based on the principle that “[s]paces are defined by strategic placement of materials, both hard and soft, to create transitions and thresholds between architecture and landscape.” From this vantage point, we see a smooth transition from grass to deck thanks to the inclusion of plants.
Looking crosswise, we also see a smooth transition from nature to structure: the gradations between grass and climbing vines leads the eye gracefully to the upper-floor windows, which would have looked quite stark without the chlorophyllic softness of the adjacent leaves. Another principle of Shelley’s design is seasonal versatility. Even in the dead of winter, the deck would retain its visual integrity because its basic shape is based on solid materials (as opposed to plants). The two-colour scheme helps the house maintain its uniqueness even when it is covered in snow. Shelley succeeded in giving what was by all accounts an old house (here's the front) the class it needs to faithfully serve its owners for many more years. Bravo!