The two story, suburban household with a white-picket fence. We all know of that classic, idyllic trope. But I am of the opinion that we should move past one certain part of that ideal— and that is the exclusivity of what a fence implies. A fence has always implied security and safety, something we all value in our place of residence. But it also seals our homes off, shuts us out from the outside world sans any interactivity or recognition that we are part of a larger community. I was recently blessed with clients brave enough to challenge the norm, and the opportunity to do so. While helping my clients with the interior design for their new home, I was asked to be their landscape designer as well. Faced the challenge of integrating modern architecture in a prime neighborhood, instead of a traditional fence, my clients and I arrive to the concept for a community bench. We later laid out plans for two long concrete benches along the side walk where a fence or a hedge traditionally would be. We painted the body of the structure with a warm, earthy taupe, and lined the top with hard, dark brown, epi wood planks. Finally, we embedded small, unobtrusive LED lights along the length to light the pathways during the evenings for the benefit of our night owl neighbors. The style of the community bench is closely integrated with the existing style of the home, welcoming friendly neighbors to sit down, and rest their weary feet, while clearly setting the boundaries of the property.
How many times have we been walking, and wished we could quickly tie our loosened shoestrings? Or to comfort a crying baby, or to sit down a bit to catch our breath and enjoy our beautiful city? The idea is instead of fencing ourselves in with high pricket fence, we made the border to be a community bench. While the structure can still define our lot, we do our part to interact with the world around us, instead of sequestering ourselves within our homes. Instead of a moat, we have a bridge. Instead of a wall, we have an open invitation. And instead of a fence to scare, we have a bench— to share.