Why outside space

It is generally accepted that garden design refers to the design of smaller scale domestic spaces and that landscape design refers to design on a larger scale often incorporating public space. The word garden carries with it the implication of a space that is defined by the presence of plants ie shrubs, borders, parterres etc. But there is a definite trend towards a requirement for outdoor multi functioning space and we have also seen the emergence of gardens without any plants at all.

Thomas Church was a famous American landscape architect who first encouraged us to think about the garden as an outdoor living room and this is an idea that holds currency today. However, it’s now clearly moving even further as we see the increased requirement for lounging spaces and even outdoor kitchens. The revived interest in growing your own and more generally in seasonality and localism makes the outdoor kitchen a logical step forward. Whether we will see a climate making more extended outdoor living a possibility in this country remains debatable, but people are certainly interested in cooking in the garden.

The traditional barbeque is being replaced by kitchen surfaces with integrated hobs, sinks and cupboards. Green walls grow edibles such as lettuce and herbs and at Chelsea last year we witnessed the endorsement of the outside pizza oven by Jamie Oliver. You can even attend courses now in building your own pizza oven if your budget won’t stretch to the fine ovens that you might find in your nearest Pizza Express.

One journalist suggested that perhaps we should call ourselves exterior designers rather than garden designers and it’s not a bad idea even if it sounds a little clinical. Certainly, it’s very useful to think in terms of the articulation of space and to treat space and light almost as another material alongside paving, walls and planting.

But in the end, you cannot lose sight of the landscape. The creation of any outside space is about investigating the relationship between Man and the Land. It’s a relationship without which we simply could not survive. Outside living space connects us physically, intellectually and emotionally to the wider landscape that is our heritage.