Gardens of all Sorts

Gardens of all sorts come in all sizes and guises. And our interest in them also takes many approaches. We study the process of their design, their built forms, their materials and plantings, their meanings, their use or how they are experienced on the ground and represented in word and image, their decay and maybe their recuperation. We are interested in who their designers were, who commissioned them, and the motives of both designers and patrons, along with the political and social contexts in which gardens came into being. But sometimes we also construct our own memories of these places.

A history of gardens is best undertaken as a cultural history, even if its primary focus is design, botany, hydraulics or sculpture. People engage in place-making because our choice of habitation is of supreme importance, as we find our identity and a sense of belonging in the process of colonizing and cultivation, which the word ‘culture’ (derived from Latin colere) implies. It is not enough to look at gardens for their style (endlessly and emptily touted as ‘formal’ or ‘informal’, ‘baroque’, ‘picturesque’, ‘arts and crafts’), nor even enough to assess their visual appearance. We need to ask why they came into being, what advantages and pleasures (including the visual, to be sure) accrue from them, and how and why they have survived, changed or vanished.

The range of places that can be envisaged within the category of ‘garden’ is also enormous and various, and it changes from locality to locality, and from age to age. Yet this diversity does not wholly inhibit us from knowing what it is that we want to discuss when we think of gardens. Above all, it is useful to think of the garden as typically a place of paradox, being the work of men and women yet created from elements of nature, the two held in some precious and often precarious tension. And while a garden is often acknowledged to be a ‘total environment’, a place that may be physically separated from other zones, it also answers and displays connections with larger environments and concerns, not least agriculture and cities. Gardens, in short, are both entities within themselves and a focus of human speculations, propositions, and negotiations, concerning what it is to live in the world.

John Dixon Hunt, A World of Gardens (2012)

Draughtsman-8.jpg.asset_rgb
ThDraughtsman10
drac drawing1 rs-crop
3636
30fcc3b63b47651b409a82198d37190c
89f9b28e9295d103f6522f822985a46c
236571meurtre3

Peter Greenaway, The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982)

John Evelyn, Groombridge Place Estates (circa 1650)

FIND IT ON THE MAP

Change

In contrast to architects, urban planners and other designers, landscape architects bear the responsibility of creating interesting spatial configurations that are shaped by factors that bring about change: the seasons, weather conditions, skies, plant cycles, soil conditions and time. Together these constitute the quintessential aspects of landscape architecture: it’s about making use of dynamic, living processes instead of static, immutable situations. A good understanding of nature and how it works forms the foundation for diverging from the usual…

Steven Delva, Why we shape space (2012)

Studio Roberto Rovira, Ecological Atlas Project (2014)

FIND IT ON THE MAP

Development

The drawing presented here for a park in Greenwich interests me highly as a unique landscape drawing. It, in a convincing way, depicts time and evolution. The development of an urban forest is the main theme in the project. The drawing does not simply explain the development of the forest. It mainly states that there are several stages of maturity which have an individual quality in terms of design. This drawing is important as it denies the idea that a landscape project can be represented by one drawing which shows the project in an unknown year in the future, in its supposed final state. Desvigne here, combining plan and section shows different moments in time as being independent optimal design conditions. In doing so, the designer is forced to be more precise about what happens over time: how big are the trees in certain stages; which configurations might come true by thinning the trees?  Apart from that, the drawing has a convincing beauty which has always been present in the French drawing tradition. Desvigne himself became known early for drawing with his work on theoretical gardens, “Les jardins elementaires”. Starting from here Desvigne became one of the international stars — in itself an interesting new phenomenon in recent landscape architecture.

Noël van Dooren, Speaking about Drawing (2012)

5 2 3Michel Desvigne + Christine Dalnoky, Greenwich Peninsula (1999)

FIND IT ON THE MAP

Complex

Our image of the landscape is the result of complex cultural interpretations. The relationship of our personal experience, based in our cultural milieu to the landscapes around us is often underestimated. This includes how we interpret something even as simple as a public park. Parks have undoubtedly communicated cultural, behavioral and political cues throughout history.  Sometimes didactic and sometimes unintentionally instructive about societal norms and preferences, parks are not always as neutral as they might appear. Curiously, parks are instruments of power that seem almost benign in the public realm – few question the creation of a new park.

The design and appearance of a park generally reflects its cultural and geographical position. At the municipal level, parks are furnished with standard “from the catalog” items, such as benches, bollards and trash cans, which vary from country to country, and from city to city. Even in parks that are initially completely custom designed, these standard elements creep in as time and use progress. It is easy to identify the location of some parks from their bits and pieces, such as those in New York City from their dark green wood-slat benches. In contrast to this common quality, Superkilen in Copenhagen looks nothing like any other park in Copenhagen, and for good reason.

Jessica Bridger, Culture Riot (2012)

1024px-Superkilen

 Topotek 1, Bjarke Ingels Group, Superflex, Superkilen (2012)

FIND IT ON THE MAP
41406756_10214329479325626_6935352459019681792_o

R. David Marks, Socorro, New Mexico, USA (2018)

FIND IT ON THE MAP

Enchantment

Landscape architects like to design places considered diffcult and unrewarding and sometimes regarded as ugly even. In such cases they appear on the scene to salvage a seemingly hopeless situation and remedy it through their endeavours. If they are brought in to enhance a carefully planned and well­ fashioned project like Tempelhof, however, which enjoys general appreciation and is simply wonderful, the challenge they face is much tougher.

In the case of Tempelhof the main task con­fronting the designer teams was to transform an airport into a public park, to convert a screened o and tightly controlled arena into a completely open urban space.

This placed very considerable demands on the landscape architects selected by the competi­tion jury. Their understanding of the specific nature of the undertaking had to be such that their project would reflect its essence and move it ahead as if the two were in complete harmony – the product, as it were, of a secret pact concluded long before with the original designers. (…)

In their scheme the Gross. Max. landscape architects have merged the preservation of the setting and the sensuousness of the landscape with their own specific project design. They have thus succeeded in maintaining the spirit of Tempelhof while at the same time setting the site almost imperceptibly in motion.

Their proposal that different park curators should be brought in on an annual basis underlines this concept of movement and tes­tifies to their creativity and a spirit of innova­tion rooted in the notion that a park is ‘not an object but a process’. Although their approach is very clear and formal, it is geared to enchantment rather than formalism.

Henri Bava, Urban Urge (2012)

Gross. Max., Parklandschaft Tempelhof Winning Entry (2011)

FIND IT ON THE MAP

Parks are not

Parks are not the answer. Not for impoverished cities plagued with socio-economic crises that are painfully embodied in immense tracts of land abandoned by defunct industries and antiquated infrastructure. The question is: what if reframing formerly urban fallow sites as fertile ground for regeneration constitutes a means for a city to reinvent itself? When traditional redevelopment under-delivers or fails to materialize, as it often does in times of fiscal distress, can landscape architects offer resourceful design strategies that require a new way of seeing and a fresh vocabulary?

The term ‘wildland’ posited here attempts to brand cultivated urban wilds along with other unconventional landscape- based tactics to fill the gaps and dispel the stigma of disinvestment. Can wildland assume a role as healthy urban fabric, no lesser an asset than parkland? For well over a decade, notable examples in Germany invented ‘urban nature parks’ promoted by progressive planning policies to convert fallow land into productive resources for the current and future city. Yet American municipalities default to mowed lawns to keep blight at bay, albeit at a great cost. The unfortunate urge to tame urban wilds denies the reality of urban entropy and sacrifices the socio-ecological benefits that citizens could harvest from a landscape with a savage tenacity.

Julie Bargmann, Why not Wild? (2012)

GTL Gnüchtel Triebswetter Landschaftsarchitekten, Old Niddawiesen Airfield (2004)

FIND IT ON THE MAP

10 tips

1. Use a local problem to invent a generic solution. Though landscape architecture tends to be a custom job, it can still offer solutions for footloose phenomena. 2. Use a global challenge to solve a local problem. Global problems can have a major influence in landscape design. 3. Think big in small scale projects. Design solution often emerge in the bigger picture. 4. Think small and simple in big scale projects. On large scale and long term, it’s hardly possible to foresee the results of a design intervention. Still it’s vital to show how the future might look like. 5. Design total landscapes. If possible, ‘total design’ is very powerful and can overcome apparent contradictions. 6. Don’t design everything. The more you design, the less freedom there is left. 7. Aim for pure nature. Designed nature might never be ‘pure’ but can be overwhelmingly abundant, rich, exciting and fertile. 8. Make devices to experience nature. People need devices to experience nature; they bring binoculars, kites, bike, etc. Landscape architects should develop unique devices to enable that experience. 9. Trigger senses. Like most media, this book only shows the visual side of landscapes, while an intense landscape experience depends on all senses. 10. Make sense. Landscape architecture is about realizing ideas.

Lola Landscape Architecture, 10 tips for landscape architecture (2012)Park-Groot-Vijversburg08 Park-Groot-Vijversburg07

Park-Groot-Vijversburg06Park-Groot-Vijversburg05Park-Groot-Vijversburg09Park-Groot-Vijversburg01Park-Groot-Vijversburg10Park-Groot-Vijversburg02 Park-Groot-Vijversburg03

  Park-Groot-Vijversburg11 Park-Groot-Vijversburg12 Park-Groot-Vijversburg13Park-Groot-Vijversburg04Lola Landscape Architecture, Groot Vijversburg Park (2015)

FIND IT ON THE MAP

 

Formal Properties?

A surface is a living system with its own structure and cycles of production. It is a performative medium that conveys water and supports organisms like bacteria, fungi, plants, and animal life. It is the result of processes that take place under it such as the decomposition of rocks and their migration upwards from the depth of the ground. It is also the result of processes that take place over it like erosion caused by wind, water, and human activity. It responds to external systems like climactic patterns that evolve in their own composition. In its biological sense, the surface in landscape architecture is less a boundary and more a zone of connectivity. It is a place where vegetational, hydrological, and soil systems interact.

Anita Berrizbeitia, Surfaces In-Depth (2012)

If we had this conversation twenty years ago there would be discussion of the formal properties of surface. We might be looking at the paintings of Malevich or Kandinsky, or the photography of Gursky.

James Corner, Surfaces In-Depth (2012)

Andreas-Gursky-2 andreasgursky070521_560 Andreas-Gursky-Nha-Trang-20041

zcs_08_andreas_gursky_architecture_017004_andreas-gursky_theredlistAndreas Gursky, photographs

013_andreas-gursky_theredlist
Andreas Gursky, Rhein II (1999)

Radicant Design

Radicant design can make do with these sites. Instead of creating an oeuvre, radicant design evolves along with continuous inquiries, interventions and evaluations into a dialogue. This evolution and the related design processes are as much part of the work as the various elements, persons. materials, events, memories, and atmospheres. The work cannot be described as a classical form; it is a progressing form. Its authorship is blurred: the classical framework of designers, clients, and public no longer fits — all are co-creators. Not that these evolutive and cooperative work modes would be unfamiliar to landscape architects — on the contrary, but they didn’t propel 20th-century landscape discourses. Let’s do so now with Bourriaud who calls the ethical mode of altermodernity ‘translation’ and its aesthetical expression the ‘journey-form’. Performative aspects are easily part of a journey-form, as the Seljord Lake Sites project shows – a forgotten place where both the legends of old and the international students’ building activities form the landscape architectural work, to say nothing of the experience of being on the (wondrous) ways that link these minimalistic interventions. The work takes place rather than form.

Lisa Diedrich, Why we shape space (2012)

2008_avant_garden_flyeravantgarden-3avantgarden-madrid

2008_avant_garden_032008_avant_garden_02 2008_avant_garden_04 2008_avant_garden_05 2008_avant_garden_062008_avant_garden_08 2008_avant_garden_07avantgarden-22008_avant_garden_09

Atelier le Balto, Avantgarden (2012)

FIND IT ON THE MAP

Amorphous

Landscape has -we saw many images- a bit of an amorphous image. When people think about landscape they don’t think of rigor, of order, of a formal element but rather of something very free, wild and uncontrollable. (…) We never want to reproduce nature or a landscape but we always want to make clear what is tamed, that we use an aesthetic that always works with elements of the landscape -the reason for an “architectural landscape”. That’s why we also create spaces – elements of architecture, for example, spaces, axes, points of high elevation, we create these elements in the landscape as architectural elements, but we always try to work with the contrast between plants and architecture.

Stephan Lenzen, Interview (2012) 7.04.01_Dyck_7 schloss-dyck-10049p44_grande_proyecto_04057Dyck-Castle-by-Stephan-Lenzen-01

p44_grande_proyecto_11 p44_grande_proyecto_10Stephan Lenzen + RMP Landschaftsarchitecten, New Gardens in the Dyck Field (2002)

FIND IT ON THE MAP