Farr & Roberts in Grand Designs magazine

Download our Free Guide

Download our free guide to Specialist Building today. Simply click the link below.

download our brochure

An urban oasis

Download our article from Grand Designs Magazine here.

Farr & Roberts featured in Grand Designs magazineFull of intrigue and hidden surprises, this beautiful courtyard design in London has a tranquil and relaxing vibe inspired by South East Asia. Key challenges the design team faced were how to make the most of a small corner plot that was pervaded by traffic and pedestrian noise, and create an attractive space for dining and unwinding that could be used both day and night.

The key to the design is simplicity. Paving has been laid on one level with the intention of visually maximising the available space, while bold planting and a dramatic cedar seating structure add varying heights, creating the illusion of yet more space.

Farr & Roberts featured in Grand Designs magazineAlthough entirely flat, the paving is far from boring. Two different types of stone – light Indian sandstone and a dark limestone – in three sizes have been used to create large paved areas with contrasting shaped borders and stepping stones within narrow rills. A simple ribbon of water shooting out from a cedar-clad wall adds height, movement and soothing sound.

Planting is lush and bold with large-scale evergreen shrubs used for instant impact and to disguise the dominant boundaries while muffling the surrounding street noise. Many of the species chosen have striking foliage, adding to the visual interest. Phormium tenax ‘Variegatum’, Fatsia japonica, Dicksonia antartica and Cordyline australis ‘Atropurpurea’ are all tough low-maintenance plants that work beautifully in this setting.

Farr & Roberts featured in Grand Designs magazineFurniture is sleek, minimal and – most importantly in a small garden – built in to the boundaries, which helps to make the most of the footprint and create an uncluttered look. An L-shaped bench made from garapa hardwood wraps around a substantial timber table to make an intimate-yet-stylish seating area, all partially enclosed by cedar-clad walls and ceiling. Discreet up- and downlighters set into the seating and its hidden stone base, give the illusion that this zone is floating.

3 ideas to steal

  1. Vary hard landscaping materials to create visual interest, draw the eye out into the space and to define separate zones. Paving laid in different directions can alter the perception of length and width
  2. Use large shrubs to hide boundaries and muffle street noise. Choose evergreen plants for year-round privacy
  3. Build an outdoor dining area to provide a self-contained place to eat. Here, an intimate space with cedar-clad walls has been cleverly lit for night-time use

Designer Matthew Keightley has created a calm, private space in this urban corner plot, using a selection of large evergreens to provide privacy and block out road noise.

The seating zone is accessed via a stepping stone in the narrow rill.