10 Unconventional, Architectural Gardens

10 Unconventional, Architectural Gardens

Sarah Coffey
Feb 23, 2011

In China, architecture is considered one of the four pillars of garden design (along with water, stone, and plants). Traditional Chinese garden books teach that architecture is a necessary human intervention into the natural world, as we can only understand wildness if it's contrasted with order.

Stone walls, pavilions, and gates frame our perception of a garden and reveal nature to us in new ways. Such is the case with these 10 gardens, all of them designed by respected architects and landscapers.

The first space shown above — MAD Architecture's Hutong Bubble — exists within a traditional Chinese courtyard garden. Designed by Ma Yansong, the ethereal silver bubble is a sculpture that seems half-metal, half-water, yet it serves an important purpose intertwined with its aesthetic value, connecting a lower-level garden with a rooftop terrace.

The other 9 spaces listed and linked below likewise challenge the conventions of garden design. Some introduce hard, modern lines between wild prairie grasses, others soften harsh materials with a carpet of moss, and others (like French botanist Patrick Blanc's Vertical Garden) introduce living, growing things where we least expect them.


  1. Hutong Bubble, Beijing by MAD Architecture
  2. Garden on Turtle Creek, Dallas by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
  3. Farrar Pond Residence in Lincoln, Massachusetts by Mikyoung Kim
  4. Big Sur Garden by Blasen Landscape Architecture
  5. San Francisco Residence by Lutsko Associates
  6. Vertical Garden in a Paris Loft by Patrick Blanc
  7. Palo Alto Residence by CMG
  8. Benton Residence in Brentwood, California by Mia Lehrer
  9. Steel/Moss Garden, Charlottesville, Virginia by Siteworks Studio
  10. Pool Pavilion in Napa Valley by Tom Leader Studio in Collaboration with James Turrell

Photos: As linked above

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