Water Mill, New York
This property belongs to an art collector who wanted to transform the
landscape into an outdoor gallery for his collection of minimalist sculpture, which includes works by Masatoshi Izumi, Tony Cragg, John Chamberlain, and many others.
The program began with a clean sweep of the existing, overgrown landscaping; all that was left were the trees. Then the site was encircled with a clipped Leyland cypress hedge.
The enclosed space was treated sculpturally to create a series of controlled and visually calm settings for the individual artworks. At the same time, care was taken to include enough interest in the various areas to accent the art displays. So, for example, a fountain adds a peaceful ambience to a sunken courtyard off the house, where climbing hydrangea clothes a wall, and a bonsai, a miniature grove of meticulously trained trees, crowns a table. Each sculpture is curated to a specific setting, and these were arranged so that the scenes do not overlap.
Clean lines, monolithic forms, and natural materials define this landscape. Even the topography is treated sculpturally, with precise panels of turf set
at different levels, balanced against creamy limestone terraces, all joined by flights of limestone steps and paths of limestone flags. Masses of clipped boxwood, eight feet wide but maintained at a height of two feet, were positioned around the house in another sculptural touch. The focal point of the landscape is a rectilinear vanishing-edge pool, which serves as both a swimming and a reflecting pool, the mirrored image on the water’s surface ever-changing. With such a complex program within a relatively small space, it was essential to keep the garden within bounds. The garden spaces and the terraces are punctuated by clipped shrubs and compact specimen trees such as Japanese maples and a file of naturally trim fastigiate beeches whose narrow profiles are further enhanced by regular shearing.
Containing the plant growth is essential in this small and intensively developed space, lest it become overgrown once again. The clipped and sheared shapes also echo and interact with the sculptures.