a meadow and a forest
terrace garden for an office
Arjun Sharma, Gaurav Shetty
S+PS Architects, Mumbai
Located in an office building, off the new link road, Andheri, the site is a terrace facing the west. this terrace had the peculiar condition that it would seldom be used, meaning that it would be accessed by not more than two people at a time, probably once a day.
So, this project offers up the intriguing idea of a “personal garden”. We can think of deploying a comparatively large chunk of space towards the creation of an experience for (say) a single chair. As innocuous as the above statement may sound, it dramatically impacts the manner in which we think about space-making and place-making. In our case, we could design this terrace in a way that makes it mostly non-accessible “spatially”, but from the perspective of place making the entire terrace could cater to the creation of an experience for that one location.
In this case, we thought of two separate places on the terrace, which could look at two different kinds of gardens. Here we have the opportunity of exploring the idea of two different ways of being in a garden. One way is cosy and introverted and the other (by contrast) expansive and extroverted.
We tried to express this by juxtaposing two contrasting ecosystem typologies. On the northern side is the tropical garden planted in large oversized pots. Dense, verdant, chaotic, intimate with planting higher and restrictive to the human eye. On this side, we have the solitary seat, surrounded by pots of dense vegetation. The backdrop of this seat is about three pots thick and offers a depth of planting not often experienced. These are planted with tropical plants with deep green hues and waxy leaves in close proximity to the people present there. Ahead of the seat, the pathway isn't placed in a straight line and hence curves out of sight. Even as one walks towards the seat, one has to weave their way around the pots and the plants that tend to push against you. This careful walk forces you to slow down a bit, and regard your surroundings a bit more carefully tightening your sphere of experience into a much more smaller and intimate space.
On the southern side is the meadow. Tranquil, expansive, grassy, allowing the eye to travel. These are flatter five inch pots potted with Cynadon grasses not to be cut, Zephyranthus, pandanus, Wadelia and bamboo grasses, and dotted with touch me nots (Mimosa pudica) While the Cynodon are allowed to grow and exhibit their seed stalk, the Zephyranthus and touch me nots will bloom in the monsoon, and just maybe the space will turn yellow in the summer (still to see). The plants in the meadow have a lighter green colour (mostly) and smaller leaves echoing a meadow-like ecology. This meadow cannot be walked on. As we enter the terrace, we walk around this meadow to a seat at the far end, where one would sit under a tree. This seating space offers views to the far distance, and the meadow foregrounds the view to and from the seat. We expect this meadow will change form over time and add some ecological depth to the garden.
This somewhat artificial pairing allows us to reflect on “planting and placemaking” in a much more visceral and sensory way.