Loudoun County, VA

Willowsford

A Lifestyle Community Rooted in Agriculture

status

Completed 2016

client

Corbelis

expertise

Master Planned Communities

services

Landscape Architecture, Land Planning

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Bridging the Gap Between Rural and Urban Living

Built around the ideals of creating a better community through land stewardship, Willowsford sets a bold new vision for American suburbs.

Set in the rolling landscape of Loudoun County, a fast-growing outer suburb of Washington DC, Willowsford is a 4,125-acre master planned community that offers the best of rural living – like access to fresh, farm-to-table produce and expansive open spaces – coupled with the modern luxuries of upscale amenities. The community accommodates 2,195 single-family homes and a wealth of amenity offerings to foster a healthy, active lifestyle for its residents.

Comprised of four non-contiguous parcels of land, Willowsford could have been developed as a typical subdivision and parceled off to different homebuilders. Instead, it is an example of a unique community development taking the longer-term perspective. Turning the county’s constrictive zoning regulations that limited density to one unit for every one to three acres into an opportunity to differentiate the project, the development team created a branded destination distinct from standard subdivisions.

By applying a natural approach to land planning, development was clustered to preserve the existing features of the site and maintain large portions of open space for agricultural and recreational uses. Defined by an extensive patchwork of scenic woodlands, open meadows, and agricultural fields, more than half of the development is designated as permanent open space. The community’s attention to detail, higher-quality built environment, and superior lifestyle offerings sets Willowsford apart from its competitors.

Our Vision

Balance Restoration + Innovation to Create a New Community Amenity

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Active living, an immersion in nature, and connections with family and neighbors are defining elements of Willowsford, carried out in the community’s brand identity and amenity package. Willowsford draws on Virginia’s scenic landscape and agricultural heritage to create an experience-based community supporting strong food and farm connections and an outdoor active lifestyle. The rustic yet luxurious lifestyle appeals to active families who want a taste of the rural life – outdoor recreation, healthy living, connections with your neighbors – near an urban center.

With more than 2,000 acres of land set aside for recreation, food cultivation, and wildlife habitat, Willowsford has created a lifestyle experience and setting that few other communities offer. LandDesign intentionally designed the environment and amenity centers at Willowsford to reinforce a rural, naturalistic aesthetic, legible through the simplistic elegance of the landscape vernacular. A 300-acre working farm is the centerpiece of community activity, positioning agriculture as an integral part of the Willowsford identity, while a consistent landscape treatment and emphasis on place-appropriate design details ensures the entire community feels like a “piece of the farm.”

In addition to vast open spaces, Willowsford features a variety of healthy-living amenities, including two clubhouses with resort-style pools. Willowsford boasts many additional activities that encourage a renewed appreciation of the environment and promote outdoor health and recreation, including children’s play areas, community gardens, a dog park, campsites and picnic areas, sledding hills, athletic fields, a kids’ BMX bike track, and a disc golf course. In conjunction with land planning and landscape architecture services, LandDesign prepared residential design guidelines and an environmental signage package, ensuring a consistent visual identity throughout the entire community.

The Challenge

Tapping Into “Rural Luxury” Through Intentional Design

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To draw young families, as well as active retirees, from urban centers to rural Loudoun County, Willowsford needed to straddle the line between urban and rural, marrying idyllic settings in nature with resort-style amenities. Willowsford aimed to create a new standard of living that prioritizes experiences and community over material goods. Natural land planning, place-appropriate design details, and outdoorsy amenities were intentionally applied by the design team to reinforce the community’s identity, crafting an authentic experience through meaningful connections to the land.

To instill buyer confidence, all of the amenities were built up-front, allowing the community and programming to draw-in potential homebuyers. The developer’s risk and upfront investment has paid off, attracting families seeing value in this lifestyle-oriented community.

 

Our Approach

Linking Community Through Land Stewardship

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Physical

Enhance and protect the natural beauty of the site through an organic approach to land planning, allowing the landscape to dictate the location of development, preservation, and amenity areas

Functional

Leverage restrictive zoning to deliver the environment and amenities required to support the unique and robust programming vision of the client

Social

Offer shared amenities and social spaces that enhance neighborly interaction, promote an active lifestyle, and forge a deeper connection with the land

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Physical

Enhance and protect the natural beauty of the site through an organic approach to land planning, allowing the landscape to dictate the location of development, preservation, and amenity areas

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Functional

Leverage restrictive zoning to deliver the environment and amenities required to support the unique and robust programming vision of the client

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Social

Offer shared amenities and social spaces that enhance neighborly interaction, promote an active lifestyle, and forge a deeper connection with the land

Four Villages, One Community

Willowsford is comprised of four distinct, separately located villages – The Grant, The Grange, The Grove, and The Greens. Each village has a slightly different character inspired by their natural setting, but all are interconnected within the framework of one overall community.

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Farm-Focused: The Heart of the Community

A defining feature of Willowsford is its 300-acre working farm, where farm operations directly interact with the community, strengthening the connection to food and farm. In addition to food production, the farm acts as the central meeting place, where residents come together, socialize, and learn. Education is a central component of the farm’s program, instilling an awareness of where food comes from and an understanding of the importance of caring for the land. The Willowsford farm stand features fresh food harvested from the farm and products from local artisans, giving residents the chance to buy fresh produce grown on-site using sustainable practices.

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Branding a Place Through Thoughtful Design Touches

Through place-appropriate design, LandDesign crafted the “story of place,” emphasizing open space in a more meaningful way by showcasing it throughout the community. Traditional four-board fencing, low natural stone walls, native plantings, and wooden signage form a common landscape vernacular, linking the community thematically through a rural yet modern aesthetic. Responding to the rural context and brand identity, the thoughtful use of classic materials and contemporary form connect Willowsford’s four villages and reinforce the community’s identity through place branding.

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Crafting Lifestyle through Experiences and Amenities

While home buyers have a range of home types to choose from, what really sets this community apart are the lifestyle experiences and community amenities – all aimed at connecting residents to the land and community around them. With two main community amenity centers, Sycamore House and The Lodge at Willow Lake, Willowsford features luxurious activities and authentic experiences, providing options for everyone to enjoy the outdoors right in their backyard. Amenities are spread throughout the community and shared among residents, inviting users to experience all the community has to offer, including lake-front living, mountain views, and 40 miles of multi-use trails.

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  • 90%

    Of homes back up to open spaces

  • 50%

    Land dedicated to open space

  • 2,000

    Acres of open space

  • 40

    Miles of multi-use trails

  • 300

    Acre working farm

  • 1

    Farm stand

  • 6

    Full-time farm employees