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03-08-21 | Feature

Unique Elements and Enhanced Spaces

Tulsa, Oklahoma
by Candace Melton Dillingham, PLA, ASLA, Skii Landscape Architecture

Working with the homeowners of this Tulsa, Oklahoma residence, Skii Landscape Architecture designed outdoor spaces that enhance the home's architecture and small space constraints while creating focal points and gathering places for the multi-generational family. By raising the pool, the Landscape Architect was able to create a more useful space for this central courtyard and pool area. The pool coping is a 2" thick thermalized, eased-edge Pennsylvania bluestone. The stone used for the outer pool siding and fireplace wall are manufactured stone that maintains its color when wet. Adding visual interest and a unifying element of materials, random ribbons of bluestone were placed in the front and back exterior which also complement tile found inside the home.
Designed by the Landscape Architect and placed over concrete drain channels, laser-cut metal drain covers were precision cut by the homeowner who owns a machining and laser cutting shop. Other laser-cut elements included on the project were made by locally owned companies in Tulsa.
The driveway security gate is laser cut metal with varying horizontal openings adding artistic privacy and keeping with the clean lines of the home.
An important request from the homeowner was to design a sanctuary for their family of box turtles that would meet the animals' needs while being visually pleasing, as it would be viewed from the home's dining room where the family gathers. A pond was created and outlined by bluestone caps and coping that sits flush with the landscape and pulls together hardscape used throughout other areas of the site. The water source is a cathedral boulder, core drilled and installed with plumbing to keep a steady flow through the pond. A laser cut panel is placed as a backdrop, adding an element that ties together materials used in the front and back of the home. To add a slight gritty texture to the many refined elements, tie holes were left exposed in the freestanding concrete wall that runs along the turtle habitat and side of the property.
The front entry of the home is 12"x24" bronze colored tile with Pennsylvania bluestone ribbons running up the walkway. A raised planter acts as a buffer to the front entrance and side guest parking with chopped graystone veneer and a 2" bluestone cap. All planting throughout the property was carefully chosen to add color and texture during every season.
A covered outdoor room on the southeast side of the residence features a built-in fireplace and ribbon of bluestone, downlit by recessed lighting. The landscape lighting and nightime ambience was important to the homeowner. By only uplighting the property's plant material, a soft effect was created throught the courtyard supplemented by the interior and exterior house lighting.
A fire feature was an important request from the homeowner and was designed as an opposite focal point to the turtle courtyard that can also be seen from the family's dining room. The custom feature uses the same materials as the pool walls and the Pennsylvania bluestone makes up the fire hearth filled with a 2" thick layer of decorative, heat resistant glass.

The project for this private residence in Tulsa, Oklahoma was very program-rich, which lent to the Landscape Architect at Skii Landscape Architecture to give design input to the client on how to obtain everything they desired within their scope. The challenge was a desire to have a flush entry into the residence in the interior courtyard while designing effective drainage in such a confined space.

The project for this private residence in Tulsa, Oklahoma was very program-rich, which lent to the Landscape Architect at Skii Landscape Architecture to give design input to the client on how to obtain everything they desired within their scope. The challenge was a desire to have a flush entry into the residence in the interior courtyard while designing effective drainage in such a confined space. It was determined the courtyard was a significant feature of the landscape as it sits at the visual forefront to every room in the home. Original sketches by the architect had a "rough concept" of a pool setting flush with the surrounding walking spaces, however with the tight walkable space, the Landscape Architect elected to raise the pool out of the ground and drain adjacent hardscape toward the pool and away from beds and doorways. A poured in place concrete channel was designed to alleviate watershed by way of 16 4" PVC pipes spread equally the length of the channel surrounding the pool. The Landscape Architect detailed the drain covers as well for the channel. The client, who owns a laser cutting and machining business, loved the idea of using her resources to create the drain covers. To avoid a mundane appearance, three different patterns of drain covers were designed to create a random collage. The covers are precision cut to sit precisely into the trench drain without a single break in the pattern or size adjustment. Also implemented on the project are several laser cut metal artistic structures: the back drop to a turtle pond, two walking gates, and a vehicular gate. All elements were designed by the Landscape Architect and manufactured in Tulsa by the owners' company along with several other local companies.

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The residence is shared by three generations of family with each wing of the house having separate living spaces. A centralized dining room brings the entire family together for dinner each evening. This room acts as a focal point with the north view looking toward the turtle courtyard and grilling space, and a view of the pool and interior courtyard to the south. Large glass doors provide access to both directions. This strong axis is emphasized by the turtle courtyard on one end and the fire feature punctuating the linear raised pool is truly a work of art.

The homeowner/client has a unique affection for the aforementioned turtles and wanted the Landscape Architect to create an outdoor sanctuary for their abundant turtle family. It was critical their habitat have a highly visual aesthetic, since the courtyard would be viewed from the formal dining room, and that it offered a water source, dry sunning area, as well as shady areas for nesting. The client insisted the gates not gap the ground plane more than an inch as baby turtles are capable of escaping a 1 A 1/2 " gap.

Also, providing a "fireside space" was an important program element from the client. A seating area down at the end of the swimming pool with a custom fire feature was developed, and working with the architect, two other fireplace spaces were also designed: one in a ground level outdoor room, and one in the upstairs balcony room.

The Landscape Architect combined the aesthetic of the fire feature with the pool and the residence by maintaining the same materials throughout the outdoor environment, extending the flooring from inside the home into the covered outdoor space with tile ribbons. Lighting all these hardscape elements as well as the plantings was done with eco sensitive lighting.

A raised planter bed in the front of the house was created to screen the visitor parking spaces. Illuminated house numbers installed in the planter allow a sense of entry to the front door. The front walkway is unique in that the Landscape Architect chose to run a randomly placed stone ribbon to the front door. These bluestone ribbons connect both the private interior courtyard and exterior hardscape of the property, providing a welcoming entry approach and creating a dynamic visual experience for the homeowners and visitors alike.

A diversity of species specifically suited to each resident of the home is showcased throughout the property, as well as plants that enhance the architectural lines of the residence. The planting design melds wonderfully with the smooth feel of the light-colored concrete patio and manages to merge traditional design elements with the contemporary values expressed by the lines of the home. Several varieties of Peony, Nikko Blue Hydrangea, Loropetalum, Butterfly Bush, and many native perennials were used as well as more modern plantings such as Golden Sweet Flag, Elijah Blue Fescue, Pink Muhly Grass, Flirt Nandina, and Golden Sedge. These, plus 49 other varieties, were used to create an elegant, inspirational, private refuge for the residents. The result is a landscape that is an honest representation of clean lines with a nod to the elegant classic garden plants of the clients' childhood.

As seen in LASN magazine, February 2021.

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