As part of my Postgraduate Diploma application process for the Inchbald School of Design, I was asked to describe a favorite space, analyzing particularly its context and its spacial qualities from my personal perspective.
The following is what I wrote:
I am quite taken by the Japanese temple porches that span some distance and give good viewing out into the garden. The wooden flooring is worn and soft to the bare feet, like old leather that you love. The coloring of the space comes in weathered browns, cool greys and a variety of greens - all calming. Sometimes pops of fuchsia come from the azalea or maybe some soft pink from a cherry bloom.
Most of the porches face south, and by late afternoon the sun has soaked into the planks and in the spring or fall this is the most pleasant place to sit. The porches are divided into two levels. One to walk or sit on, and the other to rest your feet. The rise between the two is shallow making for a very elongated or humble position. Sometimes I sit on the lowest level and slightly rest my back against the upper. I have been known to nap here, like a cat which is seduced by the late afternoon rays that have warmed that window sill for too long - you can't help yourself.
The overhead plane is high above but overhangs heavily, creating a frame for your garden viewing. As a consequence, the upper level is often shaded. Sitting on the porch with the exterior temple wall behind me and the expansive framing overhead, I feel protected and safe, yet very free to think and to be. The architecture of the temple is large and spacious, but still creates an intimate and personal experience.
The garden is the same, whether it be a moss garden full of plant life, or a kare-sansui (dry garden) with its patterned gravel beds. The negative space found in these temple gardens allows the mind to wander but not from boredom. As your eye moves across the stone and moss, the carefully pruned trees and shrubs, I wonder how they come to such beauty in design.
Sitting on the temple porch, I am small but present in these gardens. And it is in these moments I know that space matters. I know that being a garden designer matters.