Friday, June 21, 2024

How Does Your Garden Grow?

When your landscape architect is Erez Bar-Nur, the answer is: “any way you want it to.”

Art is all about freedom of expression and landscape architecture is no exception. And when you hire Landscape Design Workshop founder and lead designer Erez Bar-Nur, your garden begins with an open dialogue.

“Our work enhances the residents’ quality of life through the visceral enjoyment of the outdoors,” Bar-Nur says. “We are very interested in creating an indoor/outdoor dialogue between architecture and the surrounding environment, but not necessarily ‘sameness,’” he says. “At Landscape Design Workshop, we typically design spaces with simple lines yet a strong presence, but I advise people to answer two basic questions: ‘What is the aesthetic you are most comfortable with?,’ and ‘How you are going to use the space?’” He acknowledges that those answers matter but clarifies that “form and function” aren’t everything.

For this Las Olas Beach Club project (above), a series of horizontal and vertical hardscape elements are used to visually draw one’s eye toward the ocean.

“As landscape architects, we have to consider all aspects of the outdoor space,” explains Bar-Nur. “We weave together plant material, hardscape elements and water to create gardens that encourage exploration, different levels of activity, or quiet contemplation. And regardless of scale, we employ outdoor spaces as a bridge to connect residents with the immediate environment and, in doing so, create a symbiotic relationship that benefits both.”

Above, this waterfront Bal Harbour estate featured infinity-edge swimming pools for the ground level as well as the second story.

Below, a sculpture garden amid lush tropical foliage complements the owner’s art collection.

Bar-Nur’s lifelong interest in exploring the interface between people and their environments can be traced back to a childhood fascination with nature, which evolved into a desire to explore how man-made environments could be designed to replicate that “sense of awe and wonder about the natural world” he possessed in his formative years. After immigrating to the United States from Israel, obtaining a degree in physics, and graduating with honors, he decided to pursue his dream of practicing landscape architecture. With only enough money saved to fund a single semester of grad school, he and his then-future wife moved to Michigan.

“While working at the University of Michigan as a teaching assistant in the Physics Department, I was recruited as an adjunct faculty member to teach a course titled Energy & the Environment,” recounts Bar-Nur. “I developed it to introduce the basic concepts of energy together with a deeper understanding of the effects of energy production and consumption on the environment.” This experience was the turning point; it was Bar-Nur’s “watershed moment” that helped elucidate for him the connection between the environment and people’s well-being.

Above, the clean, crisp lines of modern architecture combined with lush, free-flowing plant material allow a seamless transition from the entry walkway through the interior space in this Weston home.

Below, this intimate sculpture garden echoes Botaniko Weston’s proximity to the Everglades, and the residential community’s emphasis on water as a design feature to convey the importance of the neighboring aquatic ecosystem.

Now living here in the land of indoor/outdoor lifestyle, Bar-Nur’s opportunity to foster that connection is limitless, especially in the current circumstances.

“As a result of the pandemic, we all know too well the importance of outdoor spaces,” says Bar-Nur, adding, “from my own experience during the height of it, I observed more people outside walking, jogging, biking or engaged in other outdoor activities than I’d ever seen before.”

Moving forward, Bar-Nur firmly believes that what has become abundantly clear over recent years—the movement away from Mediterranean-inspired to modern architecture—will endure throughout 2021 and beyond. That said, as most creative thinkers are, he is open-minded, and advises his clients that they should be as well. “Do you like uniformity, or do you prefer freeform? Will your outdoor environment be used for specific activities, or just for relaxation? Let that guide you, but not in a very rigid way. This space is for you, and you should be comfortable in it.”

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