New York, NY–NYC-based architecture office Worrell Yeung has designed the renovation of the front and back gardens of a brownstone in a Historic Landmark District in Brooklyn Heights, NY. In addition to updating historical details and upgrading a lagging garden infrastructure, the office opened up the boundary between indoors and outdoors, letting additional light into the townhouse, and creating a rich, layered garden environment.
▼后院改造概览， overall view of the backyard renovation © Alan Tansey
The existing condition of the gardens, totaling 860 square feet, were bleak and un-landscaped—and included astroturf, mosquito infestations, and water infiltration due to lack of drainage. In the front yard, Worrell Yeung reconstituted the historic forged iron fencing and gate details, adding modern contextual stone pavings and custom planters.
▼前院翻修了锻铁围栏与大门，增设了石质铺路与定制花槽，renovation of the iron fencing and gate with stone pavings and custom planters in the front yard © Alan Tansey
At the rear, new enlarged steel casement windows and doors on the ground level and first floor bring additional light into the townhouse and open onto a new balcony with a new, black custom metal staircase that descends into the intimate garden below.
▼新增的开放式阳台与定制金属楼梯，new balcony with the custom metal staircase © Alan Tansey
▼大面积钢框门窗将自然光线引入室内，large steel casement windows bring additional light © Alan Tansey
In keeping with their overarching architecture and design practice, several discrete but similar cubic volumes were designed to organize space within the gardens, containing plantings and a spa in the back, and waste/recycling protection in the front.
scheme of the backyard © Worrell Yeung
“This is consistent with a lot of the interior architecture work we do, in which we deploy ‘objects’ within a space. We treated these objects like vitrines, which helped us to organize the cubic hot tub with the plantings, for example,” says Jejon Yeung, co-founder of Worrell Yeung. Instead of laying out a more traditional wall of hedges, Worrell Yeung purposefully layered multiple plant areas in the garden to achieve lushness while still maintaining privacy.
▼由二层阳台看向后院，viewing the backyard from the balcony © Alan Tansey
The firm also strategically layered materials to further map distinction between areas within the back garden, as well as offer visual depth from within the townhouse. Historically precedent bluestone pavers were utilized in the area of the back garden closest to the house, while ipe wood comprises the hot tub vitrine, deck, and surrounding area, including bench seating and the dividing wall with the adjacent property. Black steel in the framing of the windows and doors, as well as the railings and balustrades, define the interior/exterior boundary.
layered materials further map distinction between areas © Alan Tansey
lush vegetation ensures privacy for users © Alan Tansey
“During design, we were focused on creating a backyard oasis; a small sanctuary to escape to but with a variety of experiences within the garden. Having different spaces and scale of plantings throughout made the garden read not as a singular outdoor space, but as an open living room to be inhabited,” says Yeung.
detail of the staircase and the bench © Alan Tansey
Photography by Alan Tansey
Architect: Worrell Yeung
Structural: KPFF Consulting Engineers Garden
Designer/Installer: Hannah Edmunds
Contractor: Bednarz Construction Photography: Alan Tansey
Euroline Windows Steel Railings and Balustrades Bluestone Pavers Ipe Fence,
spa deck and benches
Custom black Corian planters and waste/recycling housing Planting
light fixtures by TechLighting
Tree — Halesia ‘Jersey Belle’ Shrubs — Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee’, Camellia ‘Kumasaka’,
Fothergilla gardenii ’Suzanne’ Ground covers — Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’,
Shrubs — special order Buxus ‘Little Missy’ in 1 gallon containers
Durable, ornamental herbaceous plant — Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’