THE CANVAS: Barren land, a tradition of Mediterranean homes
THE PALETTE: A bold array of hues, Turkish tumbled marble,masses of snake plants
THE MASTERPIECE: A modern homage to Luis Barragán, a perfectly executed mélange of colors and texture
Just as too many chefs can send up flames in the kitchen, too many designers can bring creativity to a halt. But for Lewis E. Aqüí and his partners, Susan J. Hall, ASLA, and Deena R. Bell, ASLA, it is exactly that level of collaboration that encourages their best work.
When their landscape architecture firm, Hall Bell Aqüí, was asked to create an outdoor space for a new home, they eagerly signed on.
“This project is a symbiotic collaboration between interior designer Dennis Jenkins, architect Bobby Altman and us,” Aqüí says. “That was the key to success.”
Indeed, the resulting space is a departure from the Mediterranean style of other South Florida homes. Dubbed “Baja modern” by the designers, it strikes a delicate balance between strong, vibrant colors and soothing materials, between rigid shapes and soft vegetation.
“Every single detail works so well with each other — the color scheme, the lines, the textures, the different elevations,” Aqüí says.
He and his partners put a great deal of thought behind each component of the design. For instance, to avoid detracting from the dramatic red shade structure, the pool’s shape was kept simple. A tanning shelf encroaches underneath the shade, while a small rectangular peninsula separates it from the entry steps.
The trellis, which is made of Ipê wood, is supported by broad columns and connects the pool space to the main house. Mean-while, a large palapa shields an outdoor kitchen with all of the amenities.
The team then selected a mustard-colored Turkish tumbled marble for the deck, terraces and elevated wall. When the water is still, it shimmers in the gray water like gold dust. Yet the choice also was practical. “It remains very cool in the hot Florida sun,” Aqüí explains.
A green thumb
Around the pool, the firm opted for simplicity, bringing the grass poolside. Rather than planting trees or shrubs around the vessel, Aqüí perched a Dioon in a black pot on the upper terrace. The palmlike leaves offer a visual anchor for the area.
The yard also features bamboo, bromeliads, silver Buttonwood and a bright poinsettia tree to echo the colors of the home. The perimeter of the property is lined with dozens of Areca palms to create a private space.
One of the most striking plants selected is Sansevieria, the “snake plant” native to tropical West Africa. “They look like swords coming out of the black Mexican river rock,” Aqüí says. “We used elements that are very architectural, so the planting palette can stand alone in a composition.”
The same river rock also is mortared into areas of the deck. In one corner of the upper terrace, an outdoor shower is tucked behind a swirling red wall. A set of stairs wrap around the shower and lead up to a round spa. Two spray jets, which are installed flush to the upper deck, arc gently into the water.
“It adds some whimsy and fun to the whole design,” Aqüí says.
“I love plant materials that are like a natural sculpture in the garden. I like the bold and coarse textures and simple colors,” he continues. “As rectilinear and angular as this project can be, it’s still so organic because of the choices our team made.”