Two for tea
When Thomas and Leen informed Campo & Jacoby that they had bought the piece of arable land next to their residential plot, they were secretly already a bit enthusiastic.
At that time, they were already working on a design for the garden at DMOA’s famous Cor-Ten house. The garden at the characteristic steel house was designed and realized by a colleague, but the shape and size of the plot, the house and the garden clearly lacked balance. They played with the idea of mixing up the neat perennial drifts of their predecessor, but they lacked the space.
So, when they saw the area to be used doubling, that suddenly gave many more possibilities. At that time, they had to wait and see what the function of the neighboring plot would be, but the garden could already expand over the two plots.
DMOA came up with the addition of two “light” outbuildings that would fulfill several recreational and practical functions. On the one hand, a storage space/garage/playroom, on the other hand, a bar/lounge/outdoor house. The two buildings remain quite low and are placed in a clearly subordinate role to the steel main building.
The assignment expanded from designing a garden at the cor-ten steel house to developing a design that had to ensure that the added buildings would fit seamlessly with the existing structures. In addition, they wanted to integrate the whole nicely into the surrounding agricultural area.
Not obvious, because the building volumes took up a large surface area and the space in between had to be used very thoughtfully.
In the previous assignment they already played with the idea of digging a pool because there was a problem with the water management. In winter, the water proved to be very difficult to drain despite the higher level. This caused problems for many plants and, for example, also the piece of lawn at the back of the garden.
In the new concept, this pool was key. In the search for a linking element, they designed a large pool/wadi centrally located between all buildings, bringing physical unity. Without referring to the materials or design present, they looked for spontaneous lines that could physically connect the various buildings. They found this in the application of the gently curved decking structures.
The decking is made of robust oak planks. They bought the logs in Chimay (Belgium) and had them cut to the desired sizes in a sawmill in Mechelen (Belgium). In order to minimize wastage, only the sapwood was removed and the planks were consequently given variable dimensions and shapes. Ideal for forming the arches of the decking.
The heavy wooden structures and swampy pool underneath evoke a bit of a holiday feeling. A trip into the high moors, a canoe trip in Sweden… in the mind of a garden designer, a link is quickly made.
The choice for wood in a relatively natural form means that the decking matches both the house and the outbuildings. It stands alone as a stylistic element without competing too much with architecture and without demanding too much attention.
It is part of the garden and provides a backbone to the design at times when the planting declines somewhat.
The original idea of mixing up the perennials was carried on and a variety of nearly 70 species of perennials were mixed across the entire width of the site. The plants mimic a natural situation. Depending on the circumstances, specific types are used. On the slopes, the mix of grasses and perennials is the “sauce” that binds all the other “ingredients”.
In winter and at peak times a lot of water comes into the wadi. The deepest parts are planted with Carex and several other water-loving species (Carex elata, Carex panicea, Caltha palustris, Butomus umbellatus, Iris versicolor and Mentha aquatica). The marsh marigolds are the earliest bloomers in the whole. They already do that when the winter water is still in the pool.
The whole design, leaving the house, through the cor-ten slats, up the wooden decking path to the small terrace at the lounge bar should enhance the experience. Create the feeling that you can take a break in your own garden. The planting is arranged in such a way that there is a transparent visual buffer between the main terrace at the house and the new terrace at the lounge. Small details in relief and plants provide an intimate feeling to this small holiday terrace in the garden. In its essence it remembers a camping spot. The planting is also at its wildest. Around the terrace is a slope sown with a flower mixture and planted with shrubs and trees.
The trees and shrubs used are all native and the choice is inspired by the trees and shrubs found in the spacious landscape around the plot. Far away from the house, in the back of the garden, there is an area with lawn and flower meadow. The garden is fenced with a low “ursus” sheep fence wire. This is inconspicuous and has more connection with pasture than with a residential plot.
Design: Campo & Jacoby
Project Location: Kontich, Belgium
Typology: Private garden
Architects: DMOA architecten
Photo credits: © Luc Roymans
Campo & Jacoby
Campo & Jacoby is timeless. Because their main source of inspiration is nature itself, their projects are almost completely independent of hypes and trends. Gardens grow and evolve without a sense of time and, as far as they are concerned, can hardly ever be considered “finished”. They must be robust and flexible at the same time. They have to emotionalize, move and ground their visitor. They should be an optimistic foundation that reflects all aspects of life. Campo & Jacoby love collaborations with innovative architects and idiosyncratic builders who encourage to use creativity to the fullest. They form the link between architectural highlights and their surroundings. They combine a predilection for simplicity and practical logic with a deep love for nature and landscape. “Form follows function” is not a hollow concept for them, thinking “out of the box” is not a difficult task.