Swimming in a mountain river in front of the own urban residence.
A Zurich family carries out its dream before its residence on the Zurich mountain. A pool with water nozzles, biologically purified like a fresh mountain river. This pool lets the owners experience the freshness of pure spring water and owing to finely adjustable watercurrents in the pool basin, it can be swum like in a river.
The modern biological pool keeps itself pure all year long, owing to a thought out plant system, without ever having to be maintained. Beautiful side effect: One saves time and cash.
This Project was designed and built in collaboration between Zurich based Architect Thierry Garzotto and Los Angeles based Landscape Architect David Fletcher
When the architect was asked to design the new garden for a family of five, there were of course many considerations. Though the desired program was pretty clear, the interpretation thereof was not.
The site of the future garden was very steep, surrounded by trees and the existing building and offered no views to outside environment. Since the sky was the only view one could enjoy the architect recommended to detach the garden entirely from it’s surroundings to create a place suspended in mystery.
The clients own a vacation home in Los Angeles’ Venice canals. Since the architect lived and worked in Los Angeles for close to 13 years, he was eager to implement his experience and to design there new garden with a California flair. As is often the case, the garden of a California residence is almost as much in use as the residence itself. So it is very important that the garden can function on it’s own, almost like a second residence, with a roof of sky. Further more should the garden be of low maintenance and be enjoyable with almost all possible weather conditions.
The main focus of the design should comprise a bio-pool, which would regulate the water quality through filtration and reach a mineral water quality, without the need of chemical agents. Essentially a cement pond, this system is cleansed naturally through miniature wetlands, which might also provide a micro-ecology, with ducks perhaps taking a rest on their way to other places.
Under normal conditions such a bio-pool would look and feel like a miniature lake and be carved out of the site. The steepness of the site made this approach impossible. If one would have built a pool without the necessary retaining walls, the entire residence would have slipped off it’s foundations. The resulting design can be understood as a carefully orchestrated garden, which is constructed with a series of walls, preventing the residence from sliding down the hill.
In addition to the bio-pool the clients desired a jacuzzi for up to eight people, a sun- deck and a barbecue. Because this program would not suffice for a functioning, inde- pendent garden, the architect suggested to complement the program with a complete full outdoor kitchen equipped with a refrigerator, foodcenter, garbage container, gas barbecue and dishwasher, as well as a pergola with retractable shading and overhead, infrared heating. In addition to the necessary additions he also suggested a waterfall by the jacuzzi in order to visualize the water which circulates throughout the garden.
Once the program was established the architect contacted a colleague of his; David Fletcher (Terrain, Landscape Architecture + Urban Design, terrainla.com), he holds an MLA with Distinction from Harvard University (2004), and a BFA in Studio Art and BA in Landscape Architecture from the University of California at Davis (1993). They then collaborated on the realization of the program through the internet and were so able to deliver a very sophisticated design. Through this collaboration the client received a straight up California-design with the local support needed for the execution and construction.
The project was approached as the first phase of more potential spaces and gardens on the site. Given the site’s orientation to adjacent roads and the dominant sloping topography, it was critical to devise a terracing scheme that was permanent, yet adap- table.
An array of permanent concrete walls, diffuses towards the Dolderbahn, to the south. Conceived of as “sticks, falling from a hand”, these walls provide solid retention and are the dominant features on the site, suggesting a prior geology or archeology. As new spaces and ideas emerge, more of these walls may be added.
Perpendicular to the concrete walls, are less permanent gabion basketry. These modular retention systems may be moved and reused as the garden evolves. Wetland and bog plants thrive in the mini-wetlands, including cattails, iris, rushes, sedges, and water lilies. Much of the existing trees were protected during construction. These green walls frame the void to create a living sanctuary.
It is at the time to radically rethink our relationship to water and our man-made land- scapes. We can no longer continue to disregard nature and continuously poison our surroundings by demanding perfectly clear water or pristine lawns. An average pool consumes up to a gallon of chlorine bleach a week in addition to a gallon of muriatic acid every two weeks. Our gardens are ceased pools of inorganic herbicides, fertilizersand pesticides, which aim only at keeping nature away from us, in order to maintain a tidy bourgeois aesthetic. Though the water in this project is greenish, it is of perfect mineral quality. The greenish color is due to alleges naturally occurring in the system and are but proof of the water quality.
In terms of larger issues like global sustainability, it is through the residential commission, that these outdated attitudes and values are changed one pixel at a time.
A bio-pool has never to be drained or it’s water exchanged, it is self-sustaining throughout the entire year. During the wintertimes one may even use the pool for ice-skating or other related sports. Such an environment supports the local animal world and is a save havenfor dragonflies, amphibian animals and birds, yes! even bats will enjoy the pool and the surrounding garden at night.
The architects have created a self-regulating garden with an ecological approach to water and plants. With this project they made an important contribution towards the networking between ecosystems for amphibians and achieved a heightened experience which serves the client as an all year round wellness oasis.