Curves and arcs are effectively used to connect walkways and other spaces or forms having different angles. They also work equally well to enclose a core space and provide social interaction, by turning people inwardly, and towards each other.
That looks like how curves and arcs were used here at this Scottsdale xeriscape demonstration garden, part of Chaparral Park. Design (I think) by Christy Ten Eyck’s office, now based in Austin TX.
I first learned this principle in a soph design class we all took, lovingly retitled as “[Pain in the] Aspects of Design.” Or maybe it was another 1 credit hour class, “Introduction to Design”? 1985 is hazy to me, but you get the idea…
Photos from 4/23/19.
The below photos are from the right side of the above Google aerial view. The main circle the arc forms relate to are underneath the tan fabric shading. The concrete water feature is the focal point and the center of the circle and most arcs, below.
The water feature is a circle, as is the adjacent paving area, only it’s partly segments of a circle at the edges.
The arcs of the seat walls vary in height, so people of different heights can enjoy one section or another, plus they add some relief on a mostly flat area.
From walking this xeriscape garden, I couldn’t tell if these arcs related to the center of the fountain, but my guess is no. They do harden the edges of the walkways and provide a place to sit.
These gabion walls don’t seem to retain any grade changes, but they reinforce the curved walkway and provide spatial definition to the planting beyond.
Of course, the trees have a simple groundplane of crushed gravel and decomposed granite, instead of being overplanted and less maintainable.
This works on a large scale as this with arid-region trees like those palo verdes, but it can be translated to small spaces, too.
A mistake made by many desert designers is to pack in plants under all trees, even if those trees are xeric natives and require no heavily-irrigated plantings to help them survive. That mode of thought believes with religious fervor that less is less, while in nature in the desert, trees often grow along arroyos just like the above photo, though spaced more unevenly.
It’s best to have one’s desert eyes on in the desert! That spending time to think about why and how to use powerful forms like arcs and curves.
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery