An Outdoor Oasis, Sans Souci

pre-existing garden

San Souci translates from the French as “Carefree”.  In keeping with this ethos, the agenda was to transform a terraced garden at this Tower’s Estate home, into a convenient, comfortable sanctuary for the older couple who are the new owners.  The existing garden was well established, and bounded by a 12’-0” high retaining wall that created a somewhat level area.  The arrangement also featured stone steps down to the lower area of the site, which was left primarily as a natural landscape.  The scope of the project included creating an outdoor oasis with pool, spa, patio and gardens, and also turning a ground floor study into a new Master Suite.   

The Pool and Deck

We chose to locate the pool immediately behind the existing retaining wall, in order to create a vanishing pool behind retaining walledge with the sea-view beyond.  To achieve this, we extended the vanishing edge trough over the existing wall.  This necessitated cutting about two feet (2’-0”) off the top of the wall and effectively using the existing wall as formwork to cast the new pool cistern.  We demolished the old generator house and storage shed, and relocated the equipment to a new utility room below the main level veranda, which now also houses the pool equipment.  The curve at the garden edge of the pool, echoes the return angle of the retaining wall at the boundary and helps to establish the geometries that carry through the entire site layout.  The pool is roughly twenty-two feet (22’-0”) long by eleven feet (11’-0”) wide, sufficient to swim about three strokes, but really designed for lounging.  The entry steps follow the curved wall and the stainless-steel handrail aids in getting into the water.  The depth of the pool does not exceed five feet (5’-0”) making it comfortable for adults and relatively safe for children. Pool lights, in deck lights and outlets, as well as lights mounted into the base of the adjacent stone wall allow the space to be enjoyed both day and night. 


the spa and stairs to belowThe Spa

The spa was tucked into the curve of the original retaining wall adjacent to the stairs.  It provides a comfortable seating area with massaging jets.  The stainless-steel handrail provides additional stability for entry.  We introduced additional curves at the patio extension, and the edge of the deck and pool.  Each is an echo or a ripple of the others, and mediate the transition to the rectangular covered patio outside the new Master Suite.  The curves reproduce the natural geometries of the removed plant life, and the flow of the original stairs. 

The Stairs and Stone Walls

We paid particular attention to creating easy transitions between different surfaces, including creating comfortable, wide, level stairs in lieu of the original rough-hewn stone steps at the garden.  These stairs are finished with non-slip tile which coordinates with the warm gray stain colour at the pool deck.  Step-lights inserted into the risers also allow ease of navigation at night should it be necessary to go down to the Utility Room after hours.  At the edge of the pool deck, the stone wall bounding the stair, forms a low stone bench adjacent to the spa.  On the left side of the stairs, the stone branches off to bound terraced planting areas at different levels, while simultaneously functioning as a handrail for ease of navigation. 

Our new outdoor intervention respected the established levels and geometries while introducing new gracious elements.  The repetition of design notes throughout the space creates a cohesiveness between the different areas and materials.  Our close attention to transitions and detail resulted in a comfortable carefree Outdoor Oasis. 


Architect: TigerQi Architecture/ Lavina Liburd

Structural Engineer: Dawson & Associates/ Ricky Dawson

Contractor: RFA Construction Ltd

Photography “After”: Alton Bertie


Virgin Islands Property and Yacht -- November 10th, 2018