This is great - but there are still some major things to take into account here. Namely, the surrounding community, legal issues, and most importantly, the client's priorities and goals.
The client's property is located in the RiverBluff Community
in Charlottesville. The client is an architect and one of the major moving forces behind the creation of RiverBluff, which bills itself as a "conservation community."
Located on a bluff overlooking the Rivanna River, RiverBluff is a conservation community of 22 new homes in the Woolen Mills neighborhood of Charlottesville, Virginia. The houses are clustered on the brow of a hill, leaving the majority of the 19 acres as common land for the enjoyment of all residents.
The community has been designed to embrace environmental conservation and healthy living. The common land has been designated as a natural area, allowing homeowners to participate in the on-going restoration of the native riparian ecosystem. The model houses include extensive daylighting, healthy materials and energy efficient construction.
Residents may also readily access the Rivanna Greenbelt trail, a popular recreational trail network that will eventually encircle the entire city.
And now for some specifics as far as required stuff in the community:
As a conservation community, the design of RiverBluff focuses on the preservation and restoration of sensitive ecosystems.
Residents are encouraged to use the common land for recreation and to participate in ongoing landscape management activities. Features of the RiverBluff community include:
The RiverBluff common areas include several distinct ecosystems, including woodlands, wetlands and meadows. Most of the land is located in a sensitive riparian buffer bordering the Rivanna River. Over time, the common area will become a healthy, diverse and self-sustaining ecosystem.
Residents are encouraged to participate in on-going design and management of the landscape. The final design and use of the common area will evolve in concert with residents' interests and desires.
Ecological Stormwater Management
RiverBluff incorporates stormwater management techniques that infiltrate and clean stormwater like natural ecosystems. A series of rain gardens located adjacent to roads will retain stormwater from most storms, and allow water to overflow to the common area during intense storms. Some houses may also incorporate vegetated roofs.
RiverBluff residents can make use of alternative transportation. The local elementary school and downtown Charlottesville are a short walk or bike ride away via the Rivanna Greenbelt trail and city streets. Nearby city bus routes provide access to downtown, the University of Virginia and regional shopping areas.
The model houses at RiverBluff incorporate numerous features to improve environmental performance and provide a healthy indoor environment. Energy efficiency is achieved through the effective use of daylighting, a high-performance building shell, and a high-efficiency heating and cooling system. Indoor air quality is improved through the use of healthy materials that limit off-gassing and a separate ventilation system that provides a constant supply of fresh air without compromising energy efficiency.
The roadways and common areas at RiverBluff are planted with a variety of native plants that need a minimum of maintenance. Residents are encouraged to think of their yards as gardens or outdoor living spaces, and plant primarily with native species. The restoration of the native woodland habitat in rear yards is strongly encouraged.
So, regarding community rules and legal issues, here's the main issues affecting design:
1. Nothing in the design can negatively impact the surrounding area
2. Privacy is really not a big issue, as the communal experience is key. The path on the eastern part of the property leads directly to the common area to the east and northeast of the community. Views are also important, so we must not consider using any plantings that would affect eastern views and/or create separation from the community.
3. Water runoff must be dealt with. As regards the community, all runoff from roads, etc. is already handled pretty well. The problem is this site, specifically - they've already been cited for improper runoff from the county. The client has a green roof, which absorbs most of the runoff from the roof, but there is still a huge amount of water that flows down the slope, eroding the hillside, removing topsoil, and creating a huge muddy mess. Any excess water runoff must be directed to the wetland which lies directly to the east of the property (hopefully having been cleaned and not including any soil or silt, which would negatively impact the wetland).
4. Native species are a priority. Anything exotic, non-native, or "invasive" may not be considered for use at all. The idea is integration with and conservation of the existing native woodland. (Small, contained vegetable gardens are a different story, obviously)
Here is a pic of the community, with the client's property circled:
I'm going to post this as is for now, and start working on the list of client priorities and goals so you can consider those.