We were asked to completely redesign and manage the construction of a garden for a new luxury boutique hotel in the canal district of Amsterdam. The gardens originally belonged to 3 separate houses and a temporary building covered much of the site. The historic, 17th Century canal district, where the hotel is situated, is a UNESCO World Heritage site so all works on the garden were extremely tightly regulated. In addition, all the materials including the new semi-mature trees, paving slabs, sand and soil, had to be hoisted over the hotel with a specialist crane. The hotel itself was designed to resemble a traditional canal house with a 21st century interpretation, using contrasts of dark and light. We designed the garden to reflect this concept, echoing elements of the traditional canal house gardens whilst using a modern idiom. With many rooms looking down onto the garden, we chose a slick geometric layout that looks good when seen from above.
We sourced magnificent large slabs of the vernacular Belgian bluestone that is used throughout old Amsterdam, along with reclaimed 18th Century Dutch bricks. We laid out planting and paving in crisp patterns and used inky-black water tanks filled with subtly-lit moving water to add an air of mystery.
The existing enormous, overgrown trees with a tuft of foliage at the top had a dwarfing effect. These were removed and in-scale, still quite large, more decorative trees were craned in instead. As the garden is viewed and used year round, we used a fair amount of evergreens, with clipped platforms of box continuing the geometric feel and framing the water tanks. Comfortable furniture makes the garden an inviting place for guests. These sofas are weather-proof and can be left outside for use all year.