The art of landscaping – ARK Architects

What is the role of the garden in each of the ARK villas?

The garden is the mediator between the architecture and the place. It is this element that encourages nature to accept me and allows me to set root. When I consider building a villa in a space, I wonder what I’m going to give back to nature to let me be there. And what I’m going to give is the garden, an element of union, of pivot, that ensures that the architecture and the place end up being in unity. So for me the garden is essential and yet it is the great forgotten aspect of contemporary architecture, even though it was already present in the origins of architecture, in Western culture when Plato and Aristotle taught in the gardens of ‘La Academia’ and ‘El Liceo’.

What do you design first, the house or the garden?

Well, the truth is, I don’t know what comes first. The garden is born from the first sketches. I do not perceive the garden as something extra, but it is born from architecture. I create architecture for the garden and garden for architecture, I don’t separate them. As the architect Luis Barragán says: I like to design houses that look like gardens and gardens that look like houses. I can’t define the border between the garden and the house and what I’m trying to achieve is that our clients don’t know if they’re inside or outside. The idea of being able to feel you are living in a garden attracts me a lot.

What role does the garden play in each of the projects?

At ARK we are fortunate work with genetically privileged plots in very large spaces located in natural environments with a very powerful DNA. Our obligation and our need is to dialogue with nature. The ARK gardens have a strong geometric component because when I express myself through the garden, the only language I have is geometry, which is the language of shapes and forms. This is why I use so many geometric shapes in the gardens, which for me are an extension of the building.

Knowing the environment is fundamental to be able to create a garden in harmony.
The environment is essential. We are fortunate to build in spaces that could be considered natural parks and what we try is to mimic the place, using adapted species. We have to be gentle in our intervention so that the place accepts us, we submit to it and we do not impose ourselves. If to build one of our villas we have to cut down exemplary trees, we try to move them instead. Our respect for nature goes above all.

What kind of species do you use in each of your gardens?

We always resort to species adapted to the landscape. If you build in the south of Spain and the whole Mediterranean forest is made of mastic trees, olive trees, cypresses and strawberry trees, using these varieties will ensure that the water requirements are at a minimum. In this way we are consistent and efficient with the environment.

How much is invested in the garden?

The budget allocated to the garden might surprise a lot of people. It is more than double or triple of what is usually allocated. It has a very strong specific importance. Architecture is an idea made concrete and the better the idea the better the final result will be. It is the same with the garden, we buy quality plants so that the result is much better and this is one of the reasons why our company is different from the rest.

We invest in good products.

An essential garden for Manuel Ruiz.

The patio of the ‘Arrayanes of the Alhambra’, Versailles… Or everything designed by Fernando Caruncho, which is pure expression, a genius in landscaping and, as often happens, much better appreciated outside of Spain than in his own country.

THE GARDENS ARE AN EXTENSION OF THE BUILDINGS

What role does landscaping play in ARK projects?

An essential role. The landscaping is an indissoluble part, and very prominent in the ARK homes. The garden is designed at the same time as the rest of the living spaces of the house. Thus, when integrating house and garden, the project acquires a unitary dimension, since everything was based on the same design concepts.

ARK defines its dwellings as “experiential”, i.e. they offer a unique experience. Is this the case for the landscapes and gardens as well?
ARK succeeds to create sense-loaded environments. The experience of these gardens takes you, on a domestic level, to a reunion of man with nature, to a tangible utopia.

Each landscaping project conforms to the housing project, how do you get the elements of the landscape to be integrated into the house?
By paying attention to the ‘spirit of the place’. Every place, every landscape, every atmosphere, every project is unique. Respecting the environment, playing with its language, merging with the surroundings, are essential elements to ensure that the house is in harmony with the natural environment

Does ARK only work with native plant species or dares to use exotic plants? What are the most recurrent species in the ARK gardens?
We use a very simple collection of plant species, with an almost total prevalence of indigenous species. Our gardens are highlighted by the tastes and smells that olive, cypress, orange and myrtle trees bring us.

Does landscaping influence housing efficiency?

That’s right. Our projects incorporate landscaped roofs, vertical gardens and living green walls, which contribute significantly to the energy efficiency of the house.

In addition to the plants, what other elements are used in the gardens of ARK dwellings?
The water. The fountain, used primarily as an ornamental element, gives the garden a new significance. Light and shadows bring life to the garden. We also incorporate mineral elements such as gravels and rocks that carry great symbolic meanings.

Define ARK landscaping in three words.

Design with soul.

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