What Is A Ranch?
Ranches conjure up all sorts of imagery in our imaginations. But when it comes down to designing one, what are we really talking about? It’s more than just the land, and it’s more than just the built structures — it is the symbiotic relationship between the two, and cultivating that requires careful exploration and design.
July 30, 2020
The word “ranch” conjures up such strong imagery — vast open plains, majestic mountain views, architectural features like a barn, or a long sturdy fence. Maybe you have had the good fortune to have been raised on a ranch, worked on a ranch, or currently own a ranch. Wherever your imagination takes you when you hear “ranch”, we can probably agree it all starts with the land. The larger the acreage, the larger the dream! The greater potential there is to engage with nature and to work with the landscape.
Mosey on up and let’s dive into a little bit about ranch design.
What is ranch design?
Breaking it down to its elemental components, ranch design is about working with the structures and the site, together: working with positive space — the built structures — and negative space — the land.
We strive to enhance the structures through the connection to the landscape, and enhance the enjoyment of the landscape, through the connection to the structures. It is a kind of symbiotic relationship, like yin and yang.
Depending on the type of ranch, its location, and the goals of the ranch owner, there are numerous features we might see in a design. A bold entry gate, the main house, a guest house/guest cabin, a caretaker residence, a horse barn, a vehicular barn, a riding arena, pastures, lean-tos, a tennis court, a swimming pool, walking trails, outdoor terraces, driveways, water features, gardens, vineyards, utility areas, those much needed back-of-house spaces for storage; the list could go on!
With a gazillion potential features, how does one plan a beautiful and functional ranch? We like to start a ranch design with a master plan for the whole property. A successful master plan captures the desired features, connects those features, and then ties those features to the land. As with any good design, there are always options. We want to show our clients the possibilities and like to work together to achieve that “aha” moment. It is a definitely fun process, too!
Often, the property is an existing ranch. In that case, we evaluate existing buildings, develop an understanding of the function and attributes of the place, and start the design process from there.
Whether it is a new master plan, or designing around an existing ranch, we strive for sustainable solutions and this leads us back to the land.