Located in an exclusive position overlooking London’s leafy Holland Park, Holland Park Villas is a prestigious, gated residential development in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea by leading developer Native Land.
Designed by architects John McAslan + Partners, the development comprises 68 elegant apartments and four outstanding penthouses, arranged across four villas that overlook a private, tranquil courtyard garden and wooded landscape, created by the Gillespies.
Gillespies was commissioned to design a sequence of luxurious private and communal gardens for the residents’ direct access and sole use. Driven by the proximity and natural beauty of neighbouring Holland Park, the landscape design draws in the woodland understory, creating a setting for the existing perimeter trees on site and embedding the new buildings within this very sensitive site, with the woodland and natural landscape imposing itself onto the architecture.
Whilst the natural beauty of Holland Park Villas created the private setting for the development, the spatial sequence through the entrance courtyard to central garden and onward to one’s front door was of key importance - from a dramatic red Acer tree on arrival, to the beautiful central courtyard and tranquil perimeter walk.
Entrance Courtyard The entrance courtyard sets the expectation of a high quality user experience for residents and guests. It is the most formal part of the scheme with tiered, clipped hedging mimicking the strong geometry of the building. This rationale creates a series of transitional spaces with a clear, logical articulation. A line of pleached hornbeam trees provides a sense of enclosure to the entrance courtyard and vehicle drop-off, where a magnificent 30-year-old Acer palmatum takes centre stage.
On entering the development, floor-to-ceiling windows in the elegant lobby offer residents stunning views out onto a central landscaped courtyard, and repetition of central Acer palmatum as a natural draw.
Central Courtyard The central courtyard is the heart of the scheme. Designed to feel mature and natural, the courtyard is encircled by apartments affording residents spectacular views over the secluded garden. The mix, composition and layout of the trees and plants were inspired by the nearby park and carefully selected and planted to ensure both visual and sensory interest throughout the year and a degree of individual privacy for residents. The garden is surrounded on all sides by clipped hedging and a water moat, defining the threshold between the communal space and residents’ private gardens, with the villas accessed by bridges off the central path. Whether arriving home, or enjoying the gardens, residents are required to cross the bridge thresholds and experience the water running gently over the black pebbles.
In contrast to the strong, architectural forms of the moat and clipped hedges, an ornamental woodland understory planting mix flows through the courtyard, giving a naturalistic and sensory experience. A selection of clipped forms and multi-stem sculptural trees add a height to the human experience, offering instant impact. The central tree occupies a pivotal position which mirrors the opulence and magnificence of the entrance courtyard Acer. The planting mix, composition and layout ensures visual and sensory interest throughout the year, from springing bulbs and summer flowers, to autumn colour and winter seed heads, as well as establishing ultimate tranquility and privacy for residents.
The central stone path provides an established route through the courtyard towards the villas and up to the perimeter woodland walk. Off the central path, stepping-stones meander through the naturalistic planting revealing reflection pools concealed within aquatic planting, seating areas and clipped box balls that add a playful expression of artifice to the naturalistic planting.
Steps from the courtyard lead up to a secluded woodland walk that offers residents a peaceful place to walk and engage with nature. It reflects an extension of Holland Park, wrapping around three sides of the development, offering a visual amenity for residents. Residents can also meander through the woodland planting, and enjoy a more naturalistic experience whilst within the confines of the development.
The woodland walk consists of an array of wildflowers, ferns and native trees. The woodland creates habitats to enhance the ecological credentials of the site and small elements of natural play concealed within the layered planting contribute towards a beautiful and functional landscape.