Alex Coppock

The fundamentals of design: views

by 6th Jul, 2018

The most successful changes to your space take into account the things you cannot change.

There are only a few things that cannot be changed, but they are all fundamental and your design needs to take the best advantage of them. It is our belief that putting the right things in the right places is generally not any more expensive than putting the wrong things in the wrong places, but the costs of getting them wrong are dramatic.

In this series of three articles, we’ll take a look at the fundamentals you cannot change and examine how to use them to their best advantage.

The second fundamental of a project tends to be the views. We see views as being a key asset of a site and something we would hope to frame within the architecture of the space. Indeed, the size and experience of a space is often not defined by what is inside it but by what is outside it or the landscape that it is part of.

There are, of course, many kinds of views.

The most dramatic are in houses elevated above the natural topography, which give extensive distance views over a large area of land. Typically, these are not panoramic, but only available in one or maybe two directions.

With views like this, we often consider how to live in front of it. This can be made possible with modern glazing and it can have a very dramatic effect on the space. By dissolving the outer wall and replacing it with glass, instead of coming into a small dark space, you enter a seemingly endless space that extends all the way to the horizon.

However, it is not only panoramic views that are important. Smaller closer views of garden details, even roads, can be really dramatic if framed and cut well. There is an obvious advantage, for example, to having a nice thick warm wall with an exquisitely cut window that frames a sculpture at the end of your garden.

When looking at a new project, think carefully about cropping views, choosing views and making vistas. One wall can hold many different views at slightly different angles, which will completely transform the relationship between the space and its landscape.

Finally, there are areas of sites which have no views, but may have the advantage of light. In these areas it can be interesting to consider translucent walls. Japanese architecture, for example, has a history of paper walls, which allow the play of light without the distraction of what may be an unattractive view. This light can become animated just by the quality or colour of the sky, but planting outside can create shadows on a translucent wall and give a beautiful animated effect in even the most unpromising locations.