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Escape to splendour

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This contemporary design creates a resort-style environment a few short steps from the back door. A spa, expansive pool and entertainment pavilion all play their part

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Transforming a residential backyard into a resort-style escape can be approached in several ways. Elements to consider might be a sense of distinct areas to explore, a feeling of sculptural interest, or an easy visual connection with both the house and surrounding environment.

This project takes all of these elements into account, with the entertaining pavilion and its cantilevered roofs standing at the heart of the design, says landscape designer Dean Herald.

"The pavilion provides a flagship for the various sculptural forms throughout the garden," he says. "It celebrates the woodland environment and ties it back to the home. It also provides a base from which to discover other areas of the expansive space."

While the pavilion's cantilevered roofs create a dramatic sculptural presence in their own right, their contemporary design is very much a response to the environment.

"The roofs are designed to present a narrow profile," says Herald. "This allows an almost clear view to the trees beyond. Slate cladding on the chimney, a built-in log sculpture and the hardwood floors of the pavilion all add to this sense of connection with the environment."

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The well-appointed pavilion is almost a home in its own right and matches the house in terms of scale. Tie-ins include the Colorbond bargeboard roofs and the plastered facades – painted in the same PaperBark colour as the exterior of the residence.

The shape of the pavilion roofs is dictated by other aspects of the surroundings as well as the natural backdrop. The rounded plane of the lower roof echoes the curved edge of a swim-up pool bar below, and an overlapping rectangular roof plane is a response to the kitchen, dining, and living spaces directly beneath it.

"The elevated pavilion also provides a place to stop and take stock of your surroundings," says Herald. "The outdoor environment offers much to investigate – from the nearby spa, to the large swimming pool, to niche courtyard areas hugging the side of the house."

However, with looks come practicalities, and the pavilion also provides a disguise for the large plant room required to run the super-sized swimming pool. Encased in a concrete shell and tucked behind large wood doors at the rear of the bar area, the plant filtration's noise is reduced to a whisper.

"This outdoor living space connects to the house and the surrounding woodland in other parts of the design, too," says Herald. "From the front door of the home, you can see straight through the interior, out across the swimming pool, to an infinity edge at the far end, and the trees beyond."

Different aspects of the area catch the eye at every turn. The poolside spa, for example, is a sculptural experience in its own right. Fronted by glass on all four sides, it looks like a block of water standing proud of its surroundings. Water spills over the four glass walls and at night it produces a myriad of eye-catching reflections.

If the pavilion is the conceptual heart of the design, a Dracaena draco or dragon tree takes physical centre stage. The unusual trunk and branch configurations of this large tree create a strong sculptural impact.

Most of the sculptural elements in the garden were designed by Dean Herald, including a dining table that doubles as a water feature. The table consists of two cantilevered steel bars with two plates of glass suspended across them. Between the sheets of toughened glass that form the tabletop, there is an ever-flowing sheet of water that spills off, waterfall-like, at one end.

"I thought long and hard about how to create an outdoor table that would fit with the natural elements," says the landscape designer. "This was one way to bring an outdoor dining table and water feature together in one place.

"Perhaps this project's most obvious natural connection is water. The table can be seen as a metaphor for the project; a contemporary design that frames nature to best possible effect."

First published date: 19 May 2010

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Credit List

Landscape designer Dean Herald, LCA, Rolling Stone Landscapes (Sydney, Australia)
Architect Paul Meyer
Main contractor Rolling Stone Landscapes
Home builder Denton Homes
Outdoor furniture Dedon & Gloster by Eco Concepts
Chlorination Chemigerm
Pool filtration Aquaquip
Pool and spa heating Hurlcon
Pool cleaner PCC2000
Decking I-Deck by Hardwoods Australia
Gates and fencing Fencing Fabrications
Lighting ME Lighting (garden), Aquastar by Aquaquip (pool)
Outdoor cooking Kitchen by Kastel Kitchens
Plantings Alpine Nurseries
Centrepiece tree Dracaena draco
Water feature Schaumsprudler Bubbles
Cladding Stone cladding by Eco Concepts
Special features Gazebo roof by Statewide Roofing