This Diablo Valley estate presented a formidable challenge. The compositional approach to intricate site planning involves experiential sequences, each contributing to an eventual sense of one’s arrival to the primary destination. Estate master planning is more than a collaboration with the building architect in the siting of structures within the borders of large properties—it is a synthesis of the owner’s specific desires while acknowledging the opportunities and constraints of the site. These larger estates require a recognizable sequence of outdoor events and destinations.
The design of this property was a collaboration between the landscape architectural firm Camp and Camp and architect, William Wood. The owners appreciated the property’s native oak woodlands and wanted to retain that environment as much as possible. This created an opportunity to construct an open creek that served as a storm water control system. The natural storm water runoff from the upper ridge flows down through natural swales, first to a cattle pond detention basin and ultimately into the property’s lower creek. Peak storm water and the runoff generated from the impervious site structures is collected and conveyed to a large marshy bio-retention pond, which also serves as a natural lowland wildlife habitat. The main estate is approached along a cobblestone paver lane edged with thousands of native irises. Moving past the marsh basin, an angular view through a large circular rose garden converges on a distant greenhouse. The final approach leads to the motor court and formal fountain.
The rear of the property hosts a main terrace equipped with sculptures, fireplace, and a covered outdoor kitchen and bar. Amphitheatre-style terraced steps rise to embrace a six-foot copper birdbath and reflecting pool. Camp and Camp worked closely with The Pool Company in the fine-tuning and construction of the Moorish-inspired water feature, which feeds a runnel that flows into the birdbath below. A cathedral of old-coast redwoods surrounds the rear yard, providing a striking backdrop as one travels through the fern grotto and across the bridge to the gazebo.
Additional site features include the pool bathhouse, studio, bocce ball and multisport court, putting green, and extensive garden paths. The color palette and textural composition for the site’s rich hardscape materials was influenced by the home’s architectural harmony with the natural hues of the surrounding woodland.
Camp and Camp Associates, Inc. is a landscape architecture, urban design and land planning firm located in Walnut Creek, California. www.campandcamp.com
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