NATIONAL AWARD OF EXCELLENE & PROJECT AWARD
Taylor Cullity Lethlean
Australian Consul General's Residence, Kobe, Japan
Beautiful design, sensitive to cultural context and cross-cultural referencing. It exhibits strong internal consistency of theme and elements, achieved through an overall serene aesthetic in conversation with some playful Australian comments. The flexible spatial resolution allows for both domestic intimacy and large ceremonial gatherings. Read More.
This is a garden designed for the Australian Consul General’s residence in Kobe, Japan. It is situated at the extreme edge of Kobe’s urban limits, on the southern face of Mount Rokko. Adjacent to this 0.9 hectare site is a picturesque creek line backed by Black Pine and Cherry trees.
Due to the symbolic and official status of the project, the designers were asked to not only resolve a variety of functional and logistical requirements, but also to grapple with the question of what might constitute an Australian Garden overseas. The design should showcase Australian design, yet reference its distinctive Japanese context and rich designed landscape legacy
The garden references are varied and multi-layered. Primarily it draws as its source residential landscapes Australians are familiar with. These ideas were compositionally informed by a judicious selection of Japanese landscape design techniques. Rather than borrowing the more iconic garden elements that are commonly seen as Japanese, we were more interested in investigating design themes that run through the art of Japanese gardens and that might become relevant to the project. The result, we hope would bean Australian garden composition that overlays and interprets the Japanese aesthetic.
The garden establishes a series of garden rooms, which respond to the internal house planning by catering for formal entertaining, ceremonial functions, informal family living and composed garden views. The garden blends these pragmatic requirements and references Japanese garden themes, such as minimalism,suwari(forced perspective), ceremony and shahkei (borrowed scenery), resulting in a Western garden composition that is intentionally Japanese in spirit.
The Formal Garden
What would a garden for an Australian be without the ubiquitous front lawn?
This garden Consists of a simple flat grass plain punctuated by bluestone piers and curved rusted steel. Functionally, it allows for ceremonial duties and provides an uncluttered area for outdoor parties and events. It is a composition of a flat plain with repetitive bluestone elements counterbalanced by the red serpentine wall. The bluestone, whilst providing informal seating, also creates a sense of depth by its parallel relationship to the main formal sitting area of the house. Views are terminated with an informal grouping of Cycads, a technique often used by the late Kyoto designer, Kinsaku Nakane.
The ‘Lunchbox’ Garden
In the back of our minds, we imagined what a Consul General would say, day after day, to the myriad of guests he would need to entertain. The lunchbox garden, we thought, might be a place to provide some conversational assistance. Adjacent to the family dining room, was a narrow triangular left-over area that was bordered by decking on one side—a spatial arrangement reminiscent of the elevated meditative deck of Kyotos Zen temple gardens.
The garden is intended as a playful twist to these traditionalkaresansui(dry landscapes). To add a culinary influence, we used the Japanesebentolunchbox as the symbolic frame in which delicious elements of the Australian landscape were showcased, hopefully to become a talking point for visiting dignitaries.
This site, like most of urban Japan, had an uncomfortable sense of enclosure and boundary This third garden area however, located at the back of the residence, was a perfect opportunity to scenically borrow from the adjacent creek valley and extend the garden experience beyond the property line.
Located adjacent to the family room and kitchen, this space became the Aussie backyard, a place for family and friends, for relaxing, a place to be casual.
A curved seat spirals out over the creek below, allowing views beyond the site. The barbecue, built by the sculptor Greg Clarke, terminates this spiral form, becoming the centrepiece of the composition.
The house, designed and built by Stonehenge Homes, and garden were built using Australian labour and materials.