Just like modern homes often bring the outside in, San Francisco landscape architect Andrea Cochran’s exterior designs extend the modern aesthetic from indoors to the outdoors. A new book by Mary Myers celebrates Cochran's distinct talent.
Published by Princeton Architectural Press, Andrea Cochran: Landscapes is not only a coffee table-ready book filled with stunning photography, it's also an incredible resource for DIYers looking to beautify their own backyards.
Myers describes Cochran’s work as giving "the sensation of being within a sculpture and looking at it, at the same time.” The Perry Residence project in San Francisco, with its sloping layers of gray gravel, evokes a Mondrian painting, with precise lines that guide your eyes across the space.
The Children’s Garden, also in San Francisco, uses grass, gravel, and beds tiny flowers to create a dynamic, almost maze-like space where children can run and play. The sharp angles and contrasting colors in the design turn a soft, safe surface into a striking work of art. A tunnel on one end of the space looks like Alice in Wonderland's portal into imaginary worlds.
Beyond the physical beauty of Cochran’s designs is the experiential element. In the book’s foreword, Henry Urbach, the Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, describes stepping into a garden design by Cochran (who he calls “Andie”) like this:
On entering you find extraneous information slipping away as an unmistakable quiet takes hold; you feel a kind of slow and gentle zooming in. They say that simply looking at the open sea brings one’s blood pressure down, but to inhabit one of Andie’s gardens is to be transported into another kind of space, a degree-zero zone, a moment of stillness, a world that sustains a feeling of simply being.
The book features eleven of Cochran’s projects and concludes with an appendix that includes detailed plans of each design, showing the layout as well as the plant species, variety, and location.