Why is it so Important to Have a Master Plan?

     As long as people have been creating, there has been a debate regarding whether spaces should be designed intuitively or with a master plan in mind.  The beauty of the intuitive, do what feels good kind of creating, is  you just do it and because it is a creative process, you the creator are mostly happy with it until you outgrow it. However, some of the most lasting creations architecturally and in landscaping, were not created with this approach as the basis. Almost all great gardens and spaces were at least structurally laid out with great forethought and planning.

    If a space is to take all the varying needs of the surrounding architecture, the preferences of the user(s), efficiency of execution (and therefore lower cost), the needs of the ecosystem and the need to have as minimal negative impact as possible, than balancing these varying needs will require a great deal of thought and planning.

    A real life example; a home that has an existing garden and layout that worked for the client for years needed to be redesigned.  The whole property needed to be more usable by creating a unique play space for a five year old, an enlarged outdoor living room in which to entertain, and a dog run with in ground composting for dog waste. On the eco-friendly side, the property needed rainwater recycling added to an existing irrigation system, a space for kitchen composting that won’t be vermin ridden, and the property needed to be made safer through the removal of some poorly rooted trees.  Of course, all this had to be done within a limited budget and without ripping up to much of what is already on site.

       Though it would be possible to execute this project piecemeal, without a long term plan, it could not be done efficiently and within budget. The trees were in tough locations that needed to be accessed with a cherry picker, the property was only a third of an acre. The need to locate the tanks for rainwater storage, deal with the dogs, and get the play area built before the child grew up all demanded at least an understanding of how the different “rooms” would relate to each other once completed if not taking care of the high priority work first.

    Very much like decorating the interior of a house, the place for intuitive creativity comes in the details of each room once the boundaries and priorities have been defined. As the spaces come together, this is where the designer (and the client) can really have some fun, and get out of their heads a little. Each room can be redesigned once the structure is in place as well, and the garden spaces will hold to the eco-sensitive and architecturally sensitive principles that were behind the original layout.

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