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.
Having reached what one architecture critic described as the midpoint in my career, I feel I have nothing to show. Or at least nothing that resembles the seductive images in architecture books, nothing reminiscent of photogenic models, nothing that could be compared to the paradisiacal computer-generated images that clutter the trade journals. My work requires few objects—ideally none at all—and only ordinary materials. It does not entail any heroic feats of execution or any extravagance. So it is distinguished by a certain poverty. It is not a deliberate desire for an architettura povera, but rather the option of rusticity. It is a rigor that stands out in my mind. A structurally unrewarding youth. I do not feel any frustration about it. This was not always the case, and I sometimes resorted to appurtenances that were likely to give my efforts the status of works of architecture: the use of layouts or familiar objects, for example. This provided me with a very fleeting reassurance.
In this domain, to distinguish between the natural and the artificial is not as simple as we ́d think at first sight ́ because the chosen natural site has in effect already had human intervention, even so, the so-called natural waterfalls have been polluted from certain angles with unwanted vegetation growing etc. The natural is in fact, in today ́s terms, is what has been least modified. But such a definition doesn’t take under consideration of the effects of human waste which affect the review of these natural sites, simply because we perceive them by identifying objects that are artificial.
We live in a period of conservation, in opposition to times of invention. We must overcome being worried to have desire, to make birth to new visions. We do not work on natural site but on territories already strongly artificialized. And we lack scientific proof to act on the durable. We have not fallen into sustainable development while our cities were being built is because we didn’t intervene to oppose the appropriate global legislation. And our practices on project suffer from the absence of rigorous scientific work on which we could go further.
Michel Desvigne, Le Plateau de Saclay: Ancrage Geographique (2012)