Creating a flexible outdoor social space

Thibaut Devulder

For this small project, we were approached by clients who wanted a sheltered space to host their frequent outdoor social events. We helped them design an integrated and flexible garden structure, to create a comfortable outdoor microclimate, whatever the weather or the occasion.

Our client, enjoying a late summer evening in the transformed terrace

The house already had a well-exposed adjacent terrace, but the the westerly wind and rain showers often disturbed the frequent social gatherings organised by our clients. They were looking for an affordable solution that would provide them with flexible configurations for the various social occasions (from small family dinner to large work events with 20+ guests).

Analysing each use scenario, we focused on creating a solution that would integrate well with the existing hard and soft landscaping, yet remain flexible in its use and the degrees of shelter it could provide.

In particular, we wanted to keep the space as open as possible to its surrounding. So we opted for a system of retractable textile roofs and glass screen walls, so that the outdoor space could function well throughout the year, whatever the weather, the number of guests and the type of activity it would host.

In parallel to this design process, we investigated both custom-made and standardised garden structures. We eventually converged towards a hybrid option, whereby we customised an existing pergola system to tailor it to the specific needs and taste of our clients and to the site, keeping the project on budget and allowing for fast-track installation — on time for the Norwegian National Day!

Testing furnishing configurations and checking their feasibility using standardised and custom-made elements, we refined the design with the clients to converge towards the final built result.

Our clients have since then sent us some nice photos, having enjoyed their new outdoor space from early spring to late autumn, hosting many social gatherings with family and friends!