"Panoramic bay views drew the client to this family home on a steep hillside bordering a public open space of sweeping grassland. During initial construction of the house, the building foundation wall was improperly waterproofed and the cross slope was graded ineffectively which resulted in extensive damage to the lower level of the house. Years later when the damage was discovered, the landscape architecture studio was brought in to correct the drainage issue, protect the repaired foundation and create usable space for the family.
The landscape architect sculpted the land to address both the drainage issue and create a reason for the family to be drawn to use this portion of the property. The design team devised a sinuous swale that winds down the slope, cutting the cross flow toward the house and created an opportunity for a romantic, meandering pathway to an informal sitting area on the way to the pool area.
The client wanted to honor the land and the habitat it provides. An over-engineered looking storm drainage system and fencing were not options for consideration. All plantings are deer tolerant, eliminating the need for a fence and allowing a uninterrupted connection to the grasslands. The client's interest in beekeeping lead the design team to incorporate nectar plants, several species of lavenders, Feijoa sellowiana, and Euphorbia amygdaloides. Many of the plantings are native to California, and all are low-water and drought-resistant.
Swales are frequently employed for practical purposes, however they are often not thought of as elements of beauty. The mission for the project is so well integrated into the design that it is hard to imagine this project was started as a grading exercise to solve a drainage problem."