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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 your backyard into a resort-style escape can be approached on several fronts. 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 addresses all these considerations, with the distinctive entertaining pavilion and its cantilevered roofs standing at the heart of the design, says landscape designer Dean Herald.

"The sculptural pavilion provides a flagship for the varied sculptured forms found throughout the garden," he says. "It also celebrates the bush environment and ties it back to the home. Thirdly, it provides an outdoor 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 offer a narrow profile to the viewer," says Herald. "This allows an almost clear view to the bush beyond. The chimney's slate cladding, built-in wood log sculpture and the pavilion's hardwood floors all add to this sense of connection with the immediate environment."

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The well-appointed pavilion is almost a home in its own right and, in fact, matches the actual home in terms of scale. Tie-ins to the house come largely in the Colorbond barge cap roofs matching the home's roofing material and through the pavilion's plastered facades – painted in the same PaperBark colour as the residence's exterior.

The shape of the pavilion roofs is dictated by other aspects of their surroundings as well as the natural backdrop. The curving edge of a swim-up pool bar below is echoed in the rounded plane of the lower roof. The 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 entire outdoor environment offers several things to investigate – from the nearby spa, to the large swimming pool, to smaller, 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.

"The project is on a large scale and this outdoor living space connects to the house and the adjacent bushland in other parts of the design, too," says Herald. "For example, a guest's first intimation of the area's upscale layout is actually from the home's front door. From here you can see straight through the interior, out across the swimming pool, to an infinity edge at the far end. Beyond the disappearing waterline is the untamed bush."

Whether seen from the front door or from the pavilion, 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, the effect is like a block of water standing proud of its surroundings. Water spills over all four glass walls and at night the effect is a myriad of eye-catching reflections.

If the pavilion is the conceptual heart of the design, a striking Drecea Draco tree takes physical centre stage. Again, its unusual trunk and branch configurations create a strong sculptural impact.

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

"I had long considered the need for an outdoor table that could sit in proximity to other outdoor 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, and lots of it. In this way the water table can be seen as a metaphor for the entire design; a contemporary design framing nature to best possible effect."

First published date: 12 January 2007

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Credit List

Landscape designer Dean Herald, LCA, Rolling Stone Landscapes (Sydney, NSW)
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 Drecea Draco
Water feature Schaumsprudler Bubbles
Cladding Stone cladding by Eco Concepts
Special features Gazebo roof by Statewide Roofing