Life & Style | Home & Interiors

The Lakes' fluid design

Inspired by the writings of an Austrian naturalist, this calming landscape in The Lakes blends warm textures, cool hues and purposeful design

  • By Angela Boshoff Hundal, Features Editor, InsideOut
  • Published: 15:04 September 11, 2012
  • InsideOut

  • Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Plants and pergolas act as additional design elements.
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It’s not often that you come across a garden where the main design element is inspired by the writings of a naturalist born in the Nineteenth century. For Romy Hawatt, the owner of this Arabian-influenced garden built by contractor Better Gardens in The Lakes, it was personalised, in-depth research paired with attention to detail that helped craft his ideal garden.

“I have always been intrigued by the writings of Viktor Schauberger, an Austrian naturalist born in 1885,” Romy says. “He made a number of extraordinary observations about the natural world, specifically water, and is said to have intuited what we now know as the subtle energy effects of the liquid. His motto was ‘observe and copy nature’. Inspired by his writings, I decided that I wanted a round pool, which is now the main design element of this garden. People said the idea was unusual and some tried to dissuade me, but it was the only way to provide – in the limited space of a backyard – the opportunity to allow water to flow in something other than a straight line.”

Romy explains that Schauberger believed forcing water to follow straight lines creates areas of stagnation, which in effect ‘kills’ the water. “He believed that water needs to move, play and lap over itself and, apart from the natural oxygenation that occurs when this happens, if you are able to create a ‘spiral flow’ you can also create a subtle ‘fluidic vortex’ that helps keep the water clean. This is what we have tried to accomplish with the shape of the pool as well as the positioning of the pool jetting and skimmers. I’m happy to say that  it all appears to be working great so far.”

While the swimming pool serves as the 600-square-metre space’s visual focal point, an array of additional design elements, carefully placed for visual balance, vie for attention. “The garden was designed from scratch and took several weeks to finalise and then about five months to build,” Romy says. “Pergolas, courtyards and Arabian-style mosaic pots feeding water into feature lit ponds act as additional design elements, with the latter positioned to draw the eye to the swimming pool. The planters throughout the space are a combination of path-level and raised beds that marry pathways and ponds.”

Romy always knew the garden alongside the Emirates Golf Club would boast magnificent views of the greens, but creating privacy from curious passers-by without breaking the flow of the landscape’s fluid design proved a challenge. “Better Gardens and I came up with the idea of planting a sub-tropical garden ‘wall’ along the boundary of the property, opening the landscape up at the back so that it looks as though it extends out to the golf course.

We created a layer of thick, low-maintenance sub-tropical plants including carpentaria palm, traveller’s palm, Washingtonian palm, gardenia, frangipani, bougainvillea and a series of ground covers. This wall also provides a substantial amount of shade.” For consistency, Romy opted for the same species of grass as on the golf course. “We also used outdoor LED lighting in brilliant white to accentuate the abundance of green at night,” he explains. “The lights have been placed in both the gardens and pathways to enhance the plants and architectural features, textures, colours and eclectic mix of designs.”

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Describing the garden’s style as “nouvelle Arabian”, Romy and Better Gardens showcased the distinctive architectural shape of the villa by contrasting it with extensive use of the colour blue in the garden as well as the detailed mosaics, terracotta-coloured pots and water features in the pool and ponds.

Romy says, “We tried to capture the essence of indoor/outdoor living as I believe people should spend as much, if not more, time outdoors as in. We evolved for thousands of years outdoors and now in the modern world most of us are cocooned in offices and homes, usually huddled under the air-conditioners and in front of TVs and computers. I believe the immediate outdoors should be enticing and easily accessible, which is what I was going for in the design of this space.”

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