Villa Petschek, designed in a Neo-Baroque style, features a beautiful garden with many types of plants. Each external space is linked by pathways which create the circulation system of the Villa connecting the various buildings and the gardens. These pathways let visitors experience the building both physically and emotionally. The Villa has a driveway from the entrance of the building and an asphalt pathway which is located in front of the garden terrace. The southeast facade of the Villa faces the enclosed garden which is formed by eye-level plants. The enclosed garden, surrounded by shrubs and dogwoods, provides a private space for both visitors and occupants. Additionally, the Winter Garden and Gallery have a superb landscape view of the eye-level plants. Different types of vegetation in the gardens establish the garden identity by reflecting the seasons through color and texture. The plants and the hardscapes of the Villa’s garden protect the residence and staff from unwanted attention. Serving a security purpose, the height of the plants are tall enough to create canopies and to block undesirable views from outside of the garden.
The main circulation system of the Villa around the buildings and the gardens offers a connective function between places. Spaces are linked by pathways. The center garden which is located in front of the Villa’s facade creates a circular path of movement. The enclosed garden with eye-level plants allows great views and sunlight when walking along the route while the tall trees block unwanted views from the outside.
Villa Petschek’s landscape has a planned spatial hierarchy and different ecosystems for each zone. The well-designed landscape of the building provides a great view and improved living environment. The landscape consists of three zones: a residential area, a large-event space, and a private activity area. The residential area is surrounded by a driveway with asphalt, which is connected to the main entrance. Three facades of the main building are enclosed with plants, while the southeastern facade is open to the garden with eye-level plants. The large event space, covered by a lawn, is located near the front southeastern facade of the residential area. The main purpose of the space’s program is large-event hosting, such as meetings and social events. Tall trees around the area, which can accommodate up to 3,000 people for any events, create a shade for the space. The Villa has two private-activity areas. One is located in the northeastern section of the garden with layered shrubs and a cluster of the plants. A tennis court in the area surrounded by hardscapes and garden with a vertical tree fence serves as privacy protection. Another area is located southeast of the building. This area has a vertical plant fence lawn and a sunken garden.
Hierarchy of Areas & Objects
The existing landscape at Villa Petschek is divided into space hierarchies according to the various landscape functions and space enclosure. The entire site uses plants as a primary material to separate privacy and define space. The function of space generates the degree of enclosure, space enclosure determines the activity of the area, and the frequency of use explains area hierarchy.
Extending beyond the Villa building, a pedestrian walk surrounded lawn is constructed for large event purposes. The Residence frequently hosts meetings and social events, organized by the United States, to communicate diplomatic policy or celebrate American national holidays. Horse chestnut and sycamore canopies frame the lawn on the north and south sides, and create shading for summer events. The openness of this area and proximity to the Villa itself allows for large events with a maximum of 3000 people.
Private Activity Area
Building on the large-event area, the private activity area is located on the outer ring of the garden with a rising topography. Layered shrub, plants clusters, and raised terracing create the distinction between openness and privacy. A sunken garden on the opposite side of the back facade is hidden behind the tree line. Following along the walk on the upper terracing from the sunken garden to the west is a plant-fenced small lawn that has been transformed from an abandoned outside pool. Continuing to the west one finds the plant-fenced tennis court. On the north side of the Villa is a small formal garden with a metal sculpture at the center of a boxwood cluster that is located in between tennis court and formal garden. The entire activity area is rarely access by the staff or residents in the house.
The plants used in the garden are for security protection, helping to block views from outside the complex and make the entire site more private. These plants should have enough tree length and dense leaves which can create closure to the exterior. These plants should be tall and have large canopies, which are planted on the open area of the garden.
Inside the garden there is open space but also enclosed space created by eye-level plantings that can block people’s view from short distances. When people are inside the garden, they still require a sense of privacy and this kind of space can be created by shrubs and small dogwoods, which are just above or near human height, and should have lush foliage that can make the space private.
The vegetation is used not only for its physical security function but also to make the site more aesthetically pleasing. Different colors and textures of vegetation can enrich the space and create varied layers within the garden. Different types of vegetation have different characteristics, such as flowers, ground covers, perennials, vines or grass. These all have completely different textures and colors that decorate the site to create a peaceful and natural atmosphere.
Plants in the garden, Prague,Czech Republic,2018. Photographs by Yanni Yang,
DSN S 546: Interdisciplinary Design Studio, Spring 2018
College of Design | Iowa State University
Preservation & Cultural Heritage Czech Republic: International Perspectives and Design Issues
Diane Al Shihabi, Ph.D.
Department of Interior Design
Mikesch Muecke, Ph.D.
Department of Architecture