Garden on Turtle Creek

Garden on Turtle Creek

Turtle Creek House, designed by Antoine Predock and completed in 1993, overlooks a steep hill down to Turtle Creek. MVVA set out to link the glass, limestone, and concrete of the house to the richly vegetated slope, introducing both constructed elements and a variety of dense new plantings. The transition from the soft planar lawn to the meandering stainless steel stepping stone planks—hard and hollow underfoot—alters the pace and feel of a walk through the garden. Likewise, the transition from the exposed aggregate steps feathered into the hillside to the rectangular concrete logs as one approaches the river emphasizes the change in the body's spatial relationship to the ground plane.

Grass steps extend from the house to the lawn. MVVA designed a new concrete wall to define the “architectural” lawn space, but by sloping its top in accord with the drop of the land, the wall slips into the landscape and avoids creating an unnecessary barrier along the mid-slope paths.

MVVA meticulously tailored the design to preserve the site's natural systems. The steps were hand dug and arranged in a unique shifting layout to avoid disturbing the root systems of existing trees.

Likewise, the stainless-steel “checker plate” pavers in the lawn hover slightly above the ground on cylindrical foundations carefully laid out on site to avoid root damage.

The fountain area is composed of a series of concrete retaining walls that vary in height. The walls are connected to a large cantilevering concrete water basin that also functions as a birdbath dear to the birdwatching owners. The heft of the concrete walls is offset by the riotous plantings of Texas elderberry, coralberry, and wax myrtles as well as black granite slabs that appear to hover above the water.

At the south end of the property, another set of exposed aggregate steps, with irregular intervals between risers, preserves the natural slope and respects existing trees.

Exposed aggregate steps descend from the new lawn to the fountain area. In the distance, at the top of the slope, a new concrete wall marks the far end of the lawn.

Exposed aggregate steps are spaced at irregular intervals to respect and adjust to the existing topography and large trees, as well as to foster awareness of the body’s relationship to the changing surroundings.

This staircase of passivated stainless steel links the back kitchen terrace with the mid-slope path. Supported by sonotubes at key points, it minimizes environmental disturbance and “floats” ethereally above lush beds of mostly native plants.

Flood Elevations

At the creek's edge, where flooding occurs periodically, concrete logs used as stepping stones were deliberately aligned to avoid interfering with the site’s natural runoff patterns.