Private residence/ Conservation project, Coastal, Kilifi – Kenya
Place – This project was the second phase of one of our costal projects, sitting just south of the Kilifi Creek in Kenya. The site was originally over grown with coppiced neem trees and with some native bush beginning to recover.
Brief – After we designed a series of courtyard gardens around the house for Phase 01 of this project the client asked us to develop a concept to make a ‘garden’ in the rest of the 5 acre site, whilst keeping in mind that water conservation was crucial to the site, with no allocations for use in the extended garden.
The Design – The process of the design was married closely with our careful pealing back of the true nature of the site as we carefully cleared the Neem trees we nurtured and protected the native coastal bush which naturally began to emerge.
The richness of the vegetation was exciting, as was the seasonal transformation was remarkable; Kenya is a tropical climate and so one would assume lush tropical native vegetation. The truth is far from this. As the Kenyan calendar year fluctuates from long dry and painful periods to vibrant and often torrential rainy seasons the coastal natural vegetation changes from moments of wealth and growth to terribly dry periods which leave the landscape looking like a skeleton of its former self.
Not only for the rare seasonal transformation but also from the element of conservation and preservation of a vastly depleting indigenous costal bushland (lost over to lush lawns and thirsty tropical plants) we discussed at length with the client and proposed the landscape design to simply embrace what was growing and to allow, where necessary, a path and journey through the existing landscape.
The result is a design made up of a series of paths. Firstly some minimal, transient, not purposefully created by us, but instead placed between two locations which allow people to naturally discover. From a design perspective it is a achieved by simply brining people to a place and the enticing them forward simply by sounds of the sea, or strategic placings of indigenous jasmines. The idea being to encourage a sense of discovery.
These simple “man- made” paths discover upon determined gestures which draw easy, wide paths within the bush, making it easy for one to walk, to wonder and appreciate the tropical seasons. A phenomenon often overlooked.
All in all there is a desperate responsibility in our hands as landscape designers and architects. The native vegetation in many parts of the world is being over-ridden for more dramatic and tidier “formal” plant choices. At the heart of our project at Salaam House is to realise and to embrace that which belongs.
Landezine International Landscape Awards awarded The Landscape Studio in 2018 a Special Mention in the garden category for Salaam House, as well as the Public Choice Award for Offices.