We sat down with Peter Kreuk, Landscape Architect. He’s been working in landscape architecture in Vancouver since 1979 and is the owner at Durante Kreuk Ltd. At Gardena, their role as landscape architects is the design of spaces outside of the building.
WHY DO OUTDOOR SPACES APPEAL TO PEOPLE?
People want to go for hikes. They want to go to the beach. They want to get outside. And if we can provide that right outside their door, I think that’s what gives them a level of comfort, relaxation, and let’s them throw the worries of the day away so that they can just talk to each other and enjoy the spaces we’ve created. Creating the right connect between indoor and outdoor spaces is key.
There’s an article I was reading the other day about wellness in the landscape, and that’s what we contribute to now by allowing people to meet each other, talk to each other in a socially safe environment. These spaces contribute to health and wellness if people take advantage of it. We create these outdoor spaces so you can get out of your home, meet people and participate in that space. Typically human beings are social animals, and by providing the opportunities for social interaction, we contribute to their health and welfare. It’s really rewarding.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE DESIGN OF OUTDOOR SPACES?
To me, as landscape architects, we build a stage, and unless the stage is filled with people doing something, it’s really a waste of time. My favorite part of the job is really getting things built. That’s the part I’ve always enjoyed – getting out on site and watching things get built and put in place and then watching people use the spaces we create.
Being a landscape architect is all about creating community, and we’re able to do that on projects of this nature because it brings people together out of their homes to the outdoors. Whether they want to watch the kids play, have a coffee, read the newspaper, whatever they want to do, we have created a space for them.
We work a lot with the architect and the developer to make sure there’s an indoor amenity which is associated with the outdoor amenity – really a true collaboration. From the beginning, that indoor outdoor relationship has to work. We also aim to create the right mix of public and semi-private spaces outside, so you can read the newspaper in solitude but your neighbor can’t read it as they walk by. But if you wanted to talk to your neighbor, if you stood up, you can talk to them. So, community connection has a lot to do with how we create these unique outdoor spaces.
Any design process is exactly that. It’s a process. Each team member comes with different programs and desires that they’re trying to achieve. It really takes a team approach to get aligned on the project vision.
WHAT INFLUENCES GUIDED YOUR DESIGN ON THIS PROJECT?
Design is a huge component of this project – from the interiors to the architecture to the landscape design. Integrating the indoor and outdoor space took a collaborative effort from everyone. And in this case, it was imperative that we worked closely with the interior designers to program the spaces to ensure cohesiveness throughout the community. It’s a story that needs to be told about the interrelationship between the indoor-outdoor spaces and how they work together. So, if we have an indoor kitchen, let’s also have a harvest table outside with some cover and a barbecue so that you can have that party that uses both spaces. It’s all about creating that stage that people actually want to go and participate.
I definitely want to make it simple. I want to make it durable. I want to make it beautiful. And we do that by considering the level of maintenance and repairs that a space may require in the long run. We also consider plant material selection forms, paving materials, etc. all those things are very carefully chosen in order to create something that is esthetically pleasing and won’t become a burden to the strata and our homeowners.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIFIC PLANTS OR MATERIALS YOU LOVE TO WORK WITH?
It really depends. I am chair of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, so I always like to throw a couple of cherries in any project that I can because flowering cherries is a beautiful plant. We need to understand what work we need each plant to accomplish. I also love hedges! They’re evergreen. They’re easy to clip, easy to maintain, easy to use to create privacy between spaces. For flowering plants, we also like to pick things that are evergreen so it works all year round to create that seasonal interest.
HOW DO YOU CREATE EXTRAORDINARY OUTDOOR SPACES FOR HOMEOWNERS?
I tell my staff all the time, go outside and go for a walk, put your phone in your pocket and look at how people use outdoor space, and use that as the clues for how you design spaces. And to me that’s the biggest inspiration in design philosophy. It’s a hard one to really define. I think the important thing is how people use the outdoors and to create the spaces in such a way that there are lots of opportunities for people to gather outside. We’ve definitely managed to do that at Gardena. The Secret Garden is a perfect example of that. To me it’s the accumulation of all the ways you may want to use an outdoor space – grab a coffee, catch up with a friend, read a book…
WHAT MAKES GARDENA DIFFERENT?
Gardena is one of the few projects where the developer actually wanted us to make use of all of the outdoor space as much as possible, not just put some roofing gravel on it. As a landscape architect, we truly appreciated the process and the challenges that were brought to us. We were challenged – every square foot needed to be uniquely programmed, needed to be developed in a special way so that the project presented itself as extraordinary. So I think what makes Gardena special is that it has all these very unique programmed outdoor spaces.
It’s seldom that you can look at a drawing in plan view and see that every almost every square inch of the site is programed for use. There is something happening everywhere. Whether it’s bike storage at the main entrance or it’s a kids play area on the roof deck, every space has been considered and has something going on.
Learn more about Gardena HERE.