A Wild Garden Leaps Off the Walls of This Backyard Build

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By Luke Hopping and Dwell
A Vancouver garden blossoms alongside fresh development.

A construction boomlet is underway in Vancouver, where revised zoning ordinances are encouraging homeowners to put up rentals, workshops, and other small but useful buildings near the alleys behind their houses. "It’s a way to create density within a city that is unaffordable for many families," says architect Clinton Cuddington, whose own laneway project hoisted a new addition, and a garden along with it. 

A Wild Garden Leaps Off the Walls of This Backyard Build - Photo 1 of 4 - Designer Monica Berdin—who is married to architect Clinton Cuddington—worked with Aloe Designs to cover two sides of their backyard studio in drought-tolerant flora. A sheltered deck features a custom fire pit and a pair of turquoise Condesa chairs.  

Designer Monica Berdin—who is married to architect Clinton Cuddington—worked with Aloe Designs to cover two sides of their backyard studio in drought-tolerant flora. A sheltered deck features a custom fire pit and a pair of turquoise Condesa chairs.  

 Wearing a blanket of local flora on two sides, the jewelry studio that Cuddington designed for his wife, Monica Berdin, looms over their West Side home’s hardscaping like a grassy knoll. And while it occupies two-thirds of the width of the backyard, the galvanized box doesn’t so much dominate the green space as reshuffles it. "We looked for terrains that would give us a visual garden environment," explains Cuddington. "And that terrain was the roof and the wall that faces back toward the house." 

A Wild Garden Leaps Off the Walls of This Backyard Build - Photo 2 of 4 - A sliding glass Western Window Systems door dissolves the boundary between indoor and outdoor.

A sliding glass Western Window Systems door dissolves the boundary between indoor and outdoor.

 The new build heightens the tranquility of the undeveloped land, too. Stitched to the adjacent garage, the 450-square-foot studio brackets a yellow cedar deck, blocking sightlines and muffling noise from the laneway beyond. Here, the couple and their two teenagers savor time together, dining and sunbathing on long summer days. "Our children are about four years from hitting the road," Cuddington relates, "so that deck is part of a culture of gathering."   

A Wild Garden Leaps Off the Walls of This Backyard Build - Photo 3 of 4 - Aloe Designs laid a second green roof on top of the home’s front entryway.

Aloe Designs laid a second green roof on top of the home’s front entryway.

A Wild Garden Leaps Off the Walls of This Backyard Build - Photo 4 of 4 - The street-facing facade leans into the landscape with a three-foot-deep cantilever and toward a pathway of hexagonal concrete pavers. 

The street-facing facade leans into the landscape with a three-foot-deep cantilever and toward a pathway of hexagonal concrete pavers. 

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