Secret courtyard garden, Hampshire

  • Plan of garden - design plays with idea of inverted space

  • Sketch of courtyard - planting encroaches remnants of the officers mess

  • Construction detail showing bench

  • Bird's eye view of courtyard - yew hedges create 'window shadows' and water features sit in old fireplaces

Secret courtyard garden, Hampshire

Within Grade II Listed buildings Sally Bower Landscape Design, in collaboration with Carolyn Willitts Studio, designed this secret courtyard garden for visitors and staff. The garden replaces an extension formerly used as an officers’ mess.

The concept for the space plays with the idea of taking the inside outside. This is inspired by Rachel Whiteread's experiments with inverted space, where sculptures express the opposite of an object. The courtyard windows create ‘shadows’ with solid dark yew hedges and chunky bench seating, while the extension footprints are smooth bands of granite paving and the fireplaces of the retained chimney breasts become water features.

The design also alludes to the history of the space, recalling the once-enclosed space of the officers’ mess, now open to the elements where nature is creeping in. Informal naturalistic planting weaves into clay brick paving laid in patterns of internal parquet. 

Link to Carolyn Willitts Studio