Corsican seafront garden

Setting a modernist villa in the corsican coastal environment - bridging between cultivated landscape and open seascape

I was contacted to design a garden for a large Villa in the final stages of completion, overlooking the coastline in the vicinity of Lumio, Northern Corsica.

corsica villa view

The client brief was to provide an entrance garden, framing the modernist façade and providing some privacy, without impeding access to the garage, and to develop the long back garden to accomodate pool and sports area, vegetable garden, and a ‘wilder area’ leading to the adjoining costal footpath, which runs through protected natural reserve.
corsica view to sea

The house looks onto a stunning view and natural environment


The challenge was in integrating a bold concrete structure with huge walls of glass into the existing landscape, which comprised both suburban and wild elements, and to welcome the view of the sea while creating some shelter from strong winds and intense sun.

villa from garden

The villa in its current state has no link to natural or built environment


Planting was designed to link up to surroundings where suitable, thereby widening the plot by featuring some neigbouring trees as part of the ‘borrowed landscape’, and to function as screen for other utilitarian areas, such as the vegetable garden and tool shed. Closest to the house the plants would include fuit trees, hedging, and a group of palms linking directly to the neighbour’s palm grove. In the built enviroment, in a suburban context rich of naturalized exotic plants, the emphasis has been on the plants’ architectural features, drought tolerance, and aesthetic value.

corsica villa sketch plan

Moving away from the architecture of the house it was essential to reduce the palette down to native species, using the shrubs and low trees typical of the Corsican maquis. The design of the garden progress from a more detailed and geometric layout in the vicinity of the house, to wide curves leading into the landscape, finally flowing into a nature path running through wild grasses.

corsica villa building

 In the area surrounding the pool I suggested some level changes and the introduction of stepped planters, to integrate the building with nature - and to create much needed shade in this west-facing garden, in an area of intense summer heat. The living room, faced with plate glass walls rising over two stories, would still offer a view of the sea over the infinity pool, but with the added interest of large tree sheltering an outdoor dining area.

The original plan feature a steep straight ramp of stairs along the southern boundary wall, which made the approach to the house seem forbidding. In keeping with safe design practice I suggested turning it into sets of steps broken by landings, making the rise up to the house a more pleasant journey framed by vegetation on either side. {image6}Given that the south wing of the house was to be used as guest room and possibly for rental accomodation, my proposal included vegetation to screen this  annexe and provided it with its own seating and lawn area. 

The drop in height between pool level and lower garden would be planted up with drought-tolerant planting, bodly architectural to suit the modern building, and making an ecological link to the mediterranean landscape. While the areas closer to the house require irrigation systems and are hungry of water and maintenance, they become less labour-intensive and less needy as we move into the naturalistic part of the garden. There is a gradual passage from the wilder landscape to the man-made one, and the garden, without obscuring the bold artistic statement of the glass-and-concrete Villa, links it to the landscape.

Copyright © 2022 Anna Piussi. All Rights Reserved. Text and images belong to Anna Piussi unless otherwise stated.