OUTHOUSE has been increasingly using drones to capture aerial views of our constructed gardens. Drone technology has opened up new opportunities to view and experience landscapes in a different way. Previously, it was rare to see a landscape from above – French parterre gardens, for example, were elaborately designed to be viewed from a high vantage such as a palace or castle, but this was only afforded to a select few.

Arbours in productive garden

Now, however, it is relatively easy to obtain a bird’s-eye view of a space, even one with no natural high ground or elevated structure nearby. The above garden at Five Dock is a great design for a suburban back yard, with points of interest radiating out from a central circular focal lawn. Normally, we experience this at ground level, and our line of sight limits what is visible – designers use this fundamental fact to create interest, using perspective, distance and form to bring features into focus, or to hide them to create mystery and invite exploration.

What makes this even more interesting is that landscape is conventionally designed from an aerial perspective, ‘plan view’, to visually show the relationship of spaces and elements in an understandable way, even though gardens are almost always experienced at eye level. It’s not until we put up a drone and take a look from above, that the overall shape and pattern of flow becomes apparent. Comparing the aerial photos to the plans shows how a well-designed space is equally composed from above as it is at eye level.

Even in small spaces, this is important. This project in Petersham is a compact rear courtyard, meaning achieving an ease of flow while being able to include layers of function and varied experience is difficult – the aerial photo shows how we balanced and connected different elements seamlessly.

At our Dural House aged care project, the large internal courtyards were designed with complex flowing geometry to create pockets and breakout zones for residents to find privacy. Sometimes, the best way to appreciate something is simply from the air!