Skyscrapers in SightHilltop retreat offers dramatic views of the Calgary skyline
Perched on a hillside overlooking downtown Calgary, this outdoor fire pit and seating area features built-in seating topped by a dramatic circular overhead structure supported by tapered stone and wood columns with copper inlays. The view becomes even more dramatic after dark, as the fire pit blazes and the skyline of Calgary comes alive.
A variety of colorful landscape shrubs and perennials were used in the garden to provide a lush setting for the outdoor fire pit area. A masonry screening wall was also designed using stone, brick, and stucco to provide privacy from adjacent properties.
The fire pit and lower level of the garden are equally impressive when viewed from the main level of the house, with the panoramic view of the city in the background.
A decorative water feature was built into the backside of the Arts and Crafts style fire place alongside a stone walkway to leading to the lower fire pit area. Landscape and accent lighting were used throughout the garden to provide a resort-like feel and nighttime ambience.
This sunken seating area provides a private and protected space for outdoor entertaining in windy conditions while preserving the great view. The boulder retaining walls and an oversize Arts and Crafts style fireplace with wood, brick, and copper detailing create an attractive windbreak for the intimate space.
Built into the garden design rather than just being an afterthought, the children’s playground uses similar materials such as wood and stone boulders to fit in seamlessly with the landscape while remaining easily visible from the deck above or from the garden level below. Boulders were used throughout the property to create several different levels within the design and to help define each space.
As the lights of the distant skyscrapers come alive after dark, this extraordinary residential garden is the perfect place to view the show in an intimate, secluded setting far from the city hustle and bustle. Sitting on a hilltop overlooking downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the property integrates natural craftsman-inspired materials and design elements that offset the modern glass and steel structures in the background.
“The clients asked us to help them create a design with several key goals in mind,” says landscape architect Lance Dickinson of DDLA Design, which has offices in Calgary and Dallas. “First they wanted to be able to entertain friends and family outdoors and have a couple different areas to do so, both at the upper level of the main house as well as at the lower levels of the garden. Second, they wanted to take advantage of the spectacular views of the city, especially in the evening hours when the lights are the most dramatic. They also are very fond of the Arts and Crafts style and asked us to incorporate materials and details from this style into our design.”
Because the property sits on a hillside lot, one of the main challenges was accessing and dealing with the steep grade changes down to the lower level. “In order to maximize their lot and create spaces along the edge of the hillside, we built several boulder retaining walls to edge and define the space, including one of the best spaces in the garden -- the fire pit area on the edge of the hillside that offers the dramatic views of the city,” says Dickinson.
This comfortable retreat features built-in wood benches and tree stumps that serve as additional seating or footrests. To define the area without blocking the views from the house, DDLA Design created a dramatic circular overhead structure with tapered wood support columns adorned with copper accents.
“In keeping with the Arts and Crafts style, we integrated other design elements and materials like exposed wood beams, brick, and copper. By combining these materials along with the boulders and stone veneer of the house, we were able to tie the entire garden together and create a consistent feel throughout each of the different garden rooms. By using several materials such as stone, brick, wood, and copper, this project has a real richness of color and materials,” says Dickinson.
A separate sunken seating area was created to give the homeowners a place to sit that offered protection from the wind. Centered around a rustic stone fireplace, the space is surrounded by low boulder retaining walls that create an attractive windbreak and an intimate space while preserving the panoramic views.
“We combined outdoor furniture along with built-in seating in this area to accommodate events where they are entertaining. We also created a defined, raised children’s playground area that blended with the garden and did not block the view from the house,” says Dickinson. “These separate spaces all work together to allow the owners to enjoy and entertain in a variety of conditions and times of day."
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