Winding journey

A twisting path through this garden represents the creative meanderings of a dyslexic mind
View of landscape architectural plans. architecture, area, design, floor plan, neighbourhood, plan, residential area, urban design, white
View of landscape architectural plans.

When a property features several disparate architectural elements, the challenge is to find a way of successfully linking them.

Christchurch's Dyslexia Discovery Centre is housed in an old inner-city villa. Recently, the front garden was transformed into an outdoor gallery for visitors to the centre, and Haden Emslie designed a small, modern studio apartment in the back garden where sponsors of the Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand can stay.

Foundation director Suzanne Pope-Mayell says it was decided that landscaping the back garden would help to link the historic villa and the public front garden with the modern studio and more private back courtyard.


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View of private courtyard which features native planting, paving, outdoor lighting.

To emphasise the connection, the courtyard at the back of the property has been designed to have a similar style to the front garden.

"The front is more structured and civic, in line with its public purpose, while the back garden has a more residential flavour; it is softer and slightly less structured," says landscape architect Andrea Brown.

"We also wanted to make a connection with the work of the foundation, so the garden partly reflects a creative dyslexic mind the way dyslexia manifests itself in movement and spiral patterns of thought," says Pope-Mayell.

View of landscape architectural plans. architecture, area, floor plan, plan, residential area, urban design, white
View of landscape architectural plans.

A cobbled path, flanked by larger basalt stone pavers winds alongside the house to the rear courtyard, representing the complexity of the dyslexic mind. It then meanders towards the studio, stopping abruptly at a sculpture by dyslexic sculptor MacKenzie Thorpe. With stones among the grasses in the garden, the area around the sculpture represents a river bed, a metaphor for challenge. Oversized nail-shaped lights in the gardens and lights embedded in the path add an imaginative, fantasy feel at night.

"The design sought to identify and expose elements of dyslexia, often seen as a journey of twists, turns and challenges," says Brown.

Aug 10, 2010
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