Focus: Sudbury Design Group
Architectural design is commonly understood in terms of building, both residential and commercial, but a deeper examination of the concepts and principals that drive the practice of creating unique and memorable spaces can certainly be extended to a landscape as well. Landscape designers and architects strive to seamlessly incorporate both buildings and the natural environment in order to maximize the potential and enjoyment of both while allowing each to accomplish their own unique tenets.
A home without thoughtful landscape design misses its opportunity, not only in terms of how the exterior is enjoyed, but also in its influence and support of the man-made structures inherent to the property. Sudbury Design Group, Inc., (SDG) has been providing discerning homeowners on the Cape and Islands with successful landscape design plans for nearly 40 years. Michael Coutu, principal of SDG, says that most of the clients understand the importance of experience when it comes to dealing with the unique challenges of property in such a fragile environment. “Our clients depend on us to successfully navigate the zoning and conservation requirements, but then expect us to create something that they are able to effortlessly enjoy every day.”
The saying goes, “Fail to plan; plan to fail,” and nothing could be more truthful in the arena of landscape design. Coutu says the process starts early, “These days we are going to sites and we are involved in the discussion of possibilities and challenges even before a client has purchased a property. The earlier the conversation, the better prepared everyone will be and hopefully deliver the potential the site has to meet the program.” Most projects involve a multitude of influences; environmental: wind, sun, salt spray; geological: slope, soil, ledge, coastal wetlands; circumstantial: the way a client intends to use and benefit from the property; all of these considerations are factors in developing a successful landscape design plan.
Coutu says the collaboration between the various professionals (engineers, architects, builders, and even interior designers) is where the success is born and the obstacles are identified. “The ideal project is when the team works on behalf of the client to achieve the ultimate goal: a landscape that exceeds the client’s expectations,” Coutu confirms. “Land isn’t as available, so building lots are more challenging. Getting a good team that can think outside of the box conceptually is critically important. Now more than ever clients and professionals want to get it right.”
The tumultuous and life-changing year of 2020 had a tremendous impact on how homeowners use and imagine the exterior space around their homes. Coutu says clients were suddenly looking to replace activities in their life that were no longer available in public settings. “Outdoor dining, not just for your immediate family, but maybe for an extended group of friends became more important, so maybe an outdoor pizza oven with a fire pit and a stable and expansive patio space,” he explains. “Spaces for exercise, cooking, entertaining; they were all goals that clients asked us to create for them during this unprecedented year. But I think many people found the silver lining to this the challenges we have encountered, and I think they are happy they have created these new spaces for the future.”