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LottaLiving.com • Entry Courtyard
Page 1 of 1

Entry Courtyard

Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 9:44 pm
by Josquin
The Program
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We wanted an entry courtyard that made a welcoming and calming transition from the driveway to the front door while maintaining a bit of mystery.
Change the traffic through the front door rather than a treacherous short cut to the living room patio along a precipitous slope.
Correct a drainage problem along the living room wall facing the entry.

The original landscaping was a collection of plants seemingly planted or allowed to grow with no apparent plan. Soil had built up against the living room wall allowing roots to grow into the wall and water to leak into the living room.
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To enclose the courtyard, I decided to use a 6 x 3 foot wide module fence using a combination of a masonry rock foundation, posts and framing of Trex and polycarbonate panels for the walls. The module is based on the traditional Japanese measurement of a ken, so the module is 1 ken high and 1/2 ken wide. The original size of the courtyard area was 36 ft width and 18 ft wide. But after making allowances for a walk way on the east side and a planting area on the north side the wall dimensions were reduced to a 11 by 5.8 modules. The module provides a human scaled pattern that contrasts with the plants and rock while pleasing the eye.
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Materials

The polycarbonate panels were chosen for a number of reasons:
1. Allows light in a North East Corner
2. A screen for decorative shadows day and night
3. Very light and easy to work with.
4. Very strong. Windstorms occur every year with gusts exceeding 70 mph.
I had used these panels at trade shows for displays, but they are used extensively for Green houses, so are readily available. We used white panels. Here’s a supplier. https://www.sundancesupply.com/index2.html

The polycarbonate panels are only five feet high in the modules allowing views of the mountains while obscuring the houses in the valleys below. They also obscure some of the garden from the driveway. To increase air circulation in the courtyard the panels do not touch the ground.
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I selected Trex for the framing to avoid rot and termites, a serious problem here. The posts are two Trex 2 x 4s combined. The posts were painted Benjamin Moore Black Iron.

We chose a round stone basin for a tsukubai, http://www.cherryblossomgardens.com/basin_setup.htm , near the entrance pavilion. The basin is fed by a copper spout protruding from an 5 inch oxidized steel I-beam. The water pours into the stone basin and drains over the side into a reservoir covered in dark Mexican beach stones and overflows into a streambed that flows adjacent to living room wall. There is a drain under the Mexican beach stones covering the floor of the streambed that removes excess water to the hillside below. The Mexican beach stones match a sunken garden in the house that is in front of a plate glass window overlooking the streambed. The sound of the fountain can be heard beyond the walls and once the silk tassel bush, garrya elliptica, has grown, the fountain will not be seen from the garden entrance.
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The garden was planted with native plants with the exception of some creeping thyme. The focal plants are a California Buckeye, Aesculus californica, a Ceanothus selection and a Manzanita, Arctostaphylos and the silk tassel bush mentioned above. Other selections include Chain fern, Woodwardia fimbriata; Western Sword fern, Polystichum munitum; Heuchera, Penstemon, Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry, Ribes speciosum; Douglas Iris, Dudleyas, Sedum and native grasses.
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Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2007 10:02 am
by classic form
Thanks Josquin, what thickness panel did you use? They look to be about 3-4mm? How did you fasten them to the Trex frame? Did you bolt the 2x's together when building the frame? Was the Trex easy to work with? Sorry for all the questions but it looks great and I have been putting this project on the backburner until I saw how great it looks...

Entry Courtyard

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2007 11:50 am
by Josquin
The polycarbonate panels are about a centimeter, actually 8 mm, thick. You can easily cut them with a table saw. The trex were bolted together, then we used the cap and base system to attach the panels to the outside of the courtyard posts. The cap and base are aluminum strips that sandwich the ends of the panels to the posts. You can see an illustration at https://www.sundancesupply.com/index2.html then go to "Choose install system".
The trex can be treat just like wood, although it is heavier and not as strong. You can use regular woodworking tools with Trex.

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2007 5:34 pm
by bamalama
Bravo! It's beautiful and suits the style of your house perfectly.

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2007 6:45 pm
by SDR
Gorgeous -- so simple looking.

SDR :cheers:

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2007 7:29 pm
by STLModern
Josquin,

Would you mind taking some detailed photos of how you actually affixed these panels to the Trex.

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2007 7:36 pm
by SDR
That would be nice. I wasn't able to find the relevant part of the Sundance page(s). . .


It's such a clean-looking installation !

Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 8:05 am
by moderns-r-us
Nice fence! I could not find the details either.

Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 8:08 am
by classic form

Courtyard Entry

Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 5:58 pm
by Josquin
Thank you for the kudos.
Here's a picture of the equipment used:
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Here's the installation looking down from the top.
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Here's a contemporary view from the entrance.
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Re: Courtyard Entry

Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 6:17 pm
by jazz-n-cocktails
Nicely done--great use of shadows and light. Do you have outdoor lighting set up to illuminate the panels at night, either from the inside or the outside? Would be a great effect with low voltage light...a warm glow.

I also like the redwood chips as a great natural counter to the exposed aggregate, concrete, and river rock. I've been thinking about our planters as our decks are being refinished and wondering about using wood over the ubiquitous river rock and peastone--both of which we also have in abundance. Thanks for the ideas. :cheers:

Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 6:22 pm
by moderns-r-us
How long is a ken?

wow

Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:22 pm
by lasquirrel

Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 8:23 pm
by Joe
nice. good job.

Basis of Measure

Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:18 am
by Josquin
I like to use a module when designing a space and the Japanese modules kyo-ma and inaka-ma are the most familiar. The measure of a ken in the kyo-ma system is about 6.5 ft. while the inaka-ma ken is about 6 ft. I like the inaka-ma 6 ft module, because it feels better to me and is simpler. In the entry courtyard, each of the posts are 1/2 inaka-ma ken, 3 feet, on center while the posts are one inaka-ma ken, 6 ft, high. (Sorry for the confusion, I had originally made a mistake above.)

A thorough discussion of the modules are in "The Japanese House, A Tradition for Contemporary Architecture" by Heinrich Engel (the forward is by Walter Gropius) or the condensed edition "Measure and Construction of the Japanese House" by Heino Engel.

I could not have done this project without the help of my wife and the help of Stephen and Michael at Induh Bulan http://indahbulan.com/ . Stephen's drawing is the one above. We love working with Stephen and Michael.

I will attach some night photos with the lighting in a few days.

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 7:15 pm
by Carlos Araujo
Nice use of native plants, when arraigned properly they can work well in a modern/abstract garden. However, I'm not sure about sculping, my native plant consultant advises people to best leave the ceanothus and manzanitas to grow naturally.

Entry Courtyard

Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 9:44 am
by Josquin
Native plants can be sculpted, trimmed and cut back. You must be careful of which plants and when you do the trimming. We have had native gardens in our last three houses. Once a year, we go through the garden from plant to plant trimming, removing dead growth and cutting back where appropriate.
There are a number of online resources for native plants. Here are a few.
http://www.laspilitas.com/
http://www.theodorepayne.org/

Theodore Payne

Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:44 pm
by Carlos Araujo
Payne and Las Pilitas are excellent resources for native plants. So is Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens in Claremont. Theodore Payne is sponsoring a garden tour this weekend (April 28 & 29), my garden is #21 on the tour (AKA Glendale 2 on the website). Yours would be an excellent candidate for next year.

Entry Courtyard

Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 6:12 am
by Josquin
Thank you, Carlos Araujo.
We choose not to be on the tour this year, due to all the unfinished construction and landscaping projects around the house. I look forward to seeing your garden.