Home describes so much more than just the structure we live in. It also includes the land that surrounds the structure. Home is the entire dwelling place, inside and out. In fact, the Japanese have an ideograma kanjithat perfectly depicts this understanding of home. It is composed of two parts: the symbol for house, and the symbol for garden. The two together form the kanji that in Japanese is pronounced katei.
Im able to articulate this concept but, because Im not trained in landscape design, I havent ever felt confident enough to illustrate it. Julie, on the other hand, has the knowledge and the eloquence to explain the qualities of outside spatial experience that are needed to truly realize what katei is all about. I realized immediately that if shed be willing to write a book with me about the outside part of what katei means, then wed have a very powerful message to relate.
Julies and my experiences have been similar and our understandings about how space is experienced are almost perfectly parallel. We have been deeply influenced by A Pattern Language, which was published in 1977, when we were each in college, and we have had an abiding interest in Japanese design. Julie, in the midst of her architectural training, studied with a garden master in Kyoto. Over the year and a half she spent there, she learned the art of garden composition, and on her return, began to build, teach, and write about landscape design.
My architectural education took me to Japan as well. Though my trip was just a few weeks in length, I learned an enormous amount more than books could teach me about the power of spatial experience. The trip also convinced me that the exterior surroundings of a houseor any building for that matter-- are just as important as the interior. I knew that for my message about smaller, better designed houses to be complete, I needed to find a way to illustrate this, and Julies collaboration is the first step in that direction.
That said, this book is not about landscaping or gardening. Its about the transitions and connections between the inside of a house and the outside, and about the journeys and the places that can be made to extend the experience of home to the outside. Just as the inside of a house is a sequence of places for the experiences of daily life, so the outside continues this sequence. And the paths and places along the way, whether inside, outside, or in the in-between zone, are together what we call Home. I hope youll enjoy this extension of the Not So Big message. Whatever the size of your property, the ideas contained herein will help to make your house and garden two parts of a singular wholeyour very own katei.
Ive been designing, as well as thinking, talking, and writing about landscapes for thirty years now; actually a lot longer if you include my delight in the world of nature as a child. Ive developed my own landscape design theories in three published books, including The Inward Garden and continue to hone my design skills on projects that range from home landscapes to cemeteries, to museum gardens, to campus master plans. I owe much to the mentors who have helped me along my journey. Many years ago, the late eminent Japanese garden master Kinsaku Nakane taught me the art of Japanese garden design, whose principles form the heart this book. My graduate training at MITs School of Architecture gave me a background in design theory and building practice that continues to be vital to my understanding of home design. Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma brought me to the City of Toronto to design the three-acre Toronto Music Garden that is based on the First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello by J.S. Bach. His delight in fueling creative collaborations and in finding connections between the different arts continues to inspire and challenge me to see the stream with open eyes.
On this book, I join forces with another visionary, Sarah. As landscape designer and architect, we make a good team. From our different perspectives, Sarah and I craft a language that speaks to the heart of design and gives our readers the ability to listen to their environment from a spatial point of view. Together, we seek to explain through words, photographs, and drawings, how and why good design works for us all, so that we can better attune our properties to fit our needs, as well as our longing for beauty and harmony. Sarah and I hope that this book will make the fields of landscape and architectural design more accessible to those who werent trained in the field, while encouraging homeowners, builders, developers, realtors and design professional to converse more fluently with each other about the characteristics of home and land. Just as weve done by working together on this book, we hope to break down the barriers between design professions through the conceptual language we use to explain the inspiring examples of good landscape and architectural design in this book. Outside the Not So Big House is, in essence, a photographic dictionary of ideas to help readers understand their surroundings in a whole new way.
Julie Moir Messervy