The Place – This private house sits within the Naratoi Wildlife conservancy just north of the famous Maasai Mara Wildlife Reserve, Kenya. The site lies upon some high banks overlooking the Mara River on the western boundary and then overlooking a large grassed plain to the East.
The Brief – The client, who are based full time in the States and visit the house annually really just wanted a nice external spaces. With our guidance together with the architect Barnes Ghaui we indicated the importance of being highly sensitive to the unique conservation area within which we need to create a very delicate and sustainable landscape solution. After many conservations with the client this become the core to the brief – to create a landscape design which seeks to enrich the natural ecology of the site.
The Design – As a studio our key ethos is to respect our environment and in doing so create designs which enrich the wider environment. For this design, considerable time was spent exploring materials for the hardscape elements of the design as well as limiting our planting palette to ensure we made a garden out of the local flora found within the area. We experimented lots with the idea of scale and widths of paths, using the locally found beautiful red stone used on its side to make bold statements to ensure a comfortable experience for the human user. By being strong and defined in the hardscape design it allowed us to simply bring the wild savannah from outside the garden, ‘in’
Planting – The most exciting element of the planting design in this project was the process. All planting material was sourced sustainably by seed from the local grasslands and grown during various stages of implementation. This was the first project where we used a totally local plant pallet, finding plants within a one kilometre radius of the site which we could use aesthetically within the project. We have used scented shrubs such as Carissa edulis, but most of the planting consists of local grasses mixed with aloes. Being all plants suited to the extensive dry periods and subsequent torrential rains the plant solutions are tolerant and thrive in the local conditions.