Uplands, Victoria BC

Part of a subdivision designed by the renowned American landscape architect John Olmsted and closely connected to the Uplands Park, where the Garry Oak ecosystem is dominant. This design brings the two together.

Architecture by:    Josh Harvey Design

Engineering by:    Aspect Engineers

Construction by:   MDRN Built 

The project site is situated in a precious ecological, cultural and historical landscape. This parcel on Beach Drive is part of The Uplands and close to Uplands Park, where the natural, original landscape is still strongly represented. The Garry Oak system creates a strong foundation for a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem. Besides that, the property is part of a subdivision designed by the renowned American Landscape Architect John Olmsted. It is among the first large-scale developments to break away from the rigid rectangular street grid. The result is a subdivision integrated into the landscape and plays with an ever-changing narrative of vistas on the beautiful vast coastal landscape. The continuing curving roads and site walk, meadows and lawns beside the road, and the composition of old Oaks and other valuable trees create a coherent experience that blends the natural and the cultivated together.

The main concepts behind the design proposal are these two ingredients; the original Garry Oak ecosystem and the valuable historical development of Olmsted’s design.

We want to connect the parcel to the more extensive Garry Oak ecosystem and the identity of the Uplands Park resulting in a conscious and subconscious connection to the bigger landscape and the strengthening of the ecosystem as a whole. In our design proposal, we want to approach the parcel as a grassland meadow with a base of native grasses, perennials and bulbs like Camassias and wild onions. A selection of single-trunk and multi-trunk Garry Oaks will be planted in the open meadow. The property edges are built up by soft-shaped native evergreen and deciduous shrubs and small trees, so the property visually blends into the green surroundings. For the hardscaping, we want to use materials that work with the underlying geology and use the open pavement as much as possible so water can seep into the underground undisturbed and not drain into the existing municipal sewer system.

With respect to The Uplands’ suburban design, our landscape will underscore and restore the site's natural character, with open spaces and interconnected tree canopies, and the essential elements of Olmsted’s original vision. We want to keep the design humble and sober and connect the front yard to the park-like structure again. By removing the existing hedges and creating a meadow with a composition of Garry Oaks, we restore the initially intended identity, connecting the parcel to the coherent visual story of Uplands. The meadow is divided into two sections: a more natural zone closer to the house, mowed twice a year, and an area frequently mowed and connects seamlessly to the lawn boulevard along Beach Drive.

The result is a new dwelling that sits gently, like a guest, in a landscape connected to The Upland's suburban vision and the underlying natural landscape.

Connecting the property to the bigger

Gary Oak ecosystem and the identity of the

Uplands Park resulting in a conscious and subconscious

connection to the bigger landscape and the strengthening of the ecosystem as a


Property is part of Olmsted’s Uplands and the

design should help underscore and restore the

open character, the continuing tree canopies

and be part of the urban development as a


Connecting the property entrance to Beach Drive so the

property visually will stay connected to the

residential park.

Functional and aesthetic elements are placed floating in the field as strong and minimal gestures in contrast to the wild underlying carpet.

Water features

Architect Dwelling:

Josh Harvey Design


MDRN Built


Aspect Engineers