2019 Merit Award

Small Project Under $150,000

Stuart’s Garden

Landscape Architect:

Joanna Pertz Landscape Architecture


Project Team:

Red Top Architects

About the Project:

Stuart’s Garden provides an elegant outdoor space for an urban family that is playful, low maintenance and ecologically sensitive. Broad arcs and curves create a compelling design graphic that draw one into the space from a number of vantage points within the family’s townhouse. These curvilinear forms echo a dynamic circuit of water that is stored below ground, recycled for irrigation and expressed as an element of play.
The design seamlessly integrates a sustainable system that conserves water and reduces the volume of stormwater discharging into NYC’s combined sewer system. At only 800sf, this compact townhouse garden demonstrates the capacity that private urban plots have to contribute to the ecological infrastructure of their surrounding neighborhoods.

Curvilinear forms transform this small rectangular plot into a light and open space that feels even larger than its footprint. Creating a sense of constant movement, these curved forms draw the eye out from the interior through large living room windows and into the garden.
A terrace adjacent to the townhouse is paved with exterior terrazzo concrete with an integral bowl containing play sand. An Ipe cover allows the terrrace to be fully accessible for entertaining when the sand bowl is not in use. This feature is designed for easy conversion to a koi pond once the children have outgrown sand play. The synthetic lawn offers a flexible play space that requires no mowing or irrigation and drains quickly. An adjustable water feature in the lawn sprays water up to 10 feet high for the children’s enjoyment.
The custom designed fence, decking, bench-swing and sandbox cover were fabricated locally using sustainably sourced wood. Curved decking platforms provide a variety of opportunities for sitting and entertaining. The fence allows air and light to pass between neighboring gardens through variations in spacing between wood members and steel bars. This affords a sense of privacy while providing borrowed views of neighboring gardens. Steel detailing reappears in the first floor terrace railing and bench swing. Children and adults enjoy the experience of calm and joy as they swing in the garden.
The stormwater management system conserves water and helps to alleviate the city’s combined sewer system.
Permeable surfaces are incorporated to maximize infiltration and a below grade cistern captures stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces to be reused as irrigation. A circular movement of water in this system is echoed in the design language and the use of the space, as the family’s young children flow through the dynamic circuit of curved platforms and play elements.