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Tranquil repose

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In this elevated garden room, privacy, peace and quiet can be taken for granted


Even the smallest city garden can have an undeveloped area just crying out for attention. With this city townhouse, it was a piece of land at the rear of the property that had never been properly landscaped.

Landscape designer Michael Mansvelt of Plantation was commissioned to come up with a landscaping plan that would maximise the space and the outlook.

"There was an opportunity to create a leafy, private space away from the prevailing wind, which would be a direct contrast to a sunny but exposed deck with a view on the other side of the house," Mansvelt says.

To this end, the designer produced a plan with an elevated seating platform that sits flush with the entry to the house. Stained kwila timber not only forms the decking, stairs and seating, but wraps around the existing low walls and three new planter boxes.

"We wanted to create something different, but it needed to complement the cedar-clad house," Mansvelt says. "Using the kwila everywhere exaggerates the overall effect, and helps make the space look larger. It was also a cost-effective way to hide the original walls."


The platform, stairs and benches have a simple, square-edged design and are semi-cantilevered so they appear to float.

"Just as there are layers in the garden, so the platform presents a series of layered elements, cascading down the path," says the designer.

The kwila is a bold counterfoil to the lush landscaping, which features gold-flowering epiphytic orchid plants. These fringe a cutout in the wall of the seating area, and a long niche with a Bisazza gold mosaic-tiled splashback. Small touches of gold also appear in the banquette cushions and other plants.

First published date: 24 February 2011

Credit List

Landscape designer Mike Mansvelt, Plantation (New Plymouth)
Builder Clelands Construction
Decking Kwila; Timber Specialists (TimSpec)
Plants, pots and sculpture Plantation