Not easily seen, a new installation by Spanish architecture group Citylaboratory is worth the trek. ROTUNDA was created as part of Quebec's International Garden Festival (International Festival des Jardins de Metis) an annual event that includes a competition soliciting innovative garden designs from studios across the world. Rotunda was one of 6 proposals selected from 293 submissions ultimately selected for realization this summer. The Citylaboratory creation is designed to make a minimal impact on its forest setting. The shallow black basin in the form of an oblong circle is crafted in steel and only makes contact with the ground at a slight foundation point. Once filled with water the form dematerializes into its woody surroundings, an ever-shifting canvas for its floral and faunal cohabitants. The architects make clear that following its inauguration, ROTUNDA is not meant to be refilled but rather "left to evolve over time." In being abandoned to the elements the installation thus becomes an abstract barometer for shifts in the forest's climate. Temperature, humidity, and precipitation will all have their say in directing the shifting fate of the structure. Beyond perhaps an obvious function as a birdbath, Citylaboratory feel that the accumulation of leaves, dust, and pollen will make ROTUNDA a source of growth and cultivation for forest life of all kinds. All 6 gardens will open May 31.
Posts tagged with "Gardens":
A giant Tetris block has landed in Powell Gardens, a large botanical garden an hour drive outside of Kansas City, Missouri. MIRRORRORRIM, designed and built by Kansas City-based firm 360 Architecture, is a modular stacking of bright, lime green, cedar cubes, forming a T-shape on the ground with a vertical tower rising above the crossing point. The wooden structure is layered over on some sides with perforated stainless steel panels. MIRRORRORRIM is one of several structures in the Fairy Houses and Forts exhibition at Powell Gardens. Following a competition open to architecture firms in the Kansas City area, the winning designs were built for the garden and will be on display through October 7th. As the title of the exhibition suggests, walls of mirrors coating a wooden frame is not just sculpture, it is a playground designed for exploration. Unlike other structures in the exhibit, which have names like Fairy Outpost 8 and Skeleton Island, 360 Architecture took a slightly different approach to a fort, discarding any pirate theme to instead focus on the ability of mirrors to create hidden spaces. The tunnel created by the wooden cubes has a plank floor for those comfortable crawling through the four-foot-high cubes. The vertical element serves as a periscope, using a mirror installed in the highest cube to give those at the bottom of the structure a view from 16 feet off the ground. Perforations in the mirrors serve as peepholes for those hiding inside. Set in a grass field and surrounded by clumps of trees, MIRRORRORRIM blends into its surroundings—the mirrors reflect a green landscape almost indistinguishable from the vistas behind—playing with the observer's perception of landscape. Different elements of the structure—variation in mirrored planes and perforations—together play on the idea of permeability; the structure itself is both a direct and indirect image of the surrounding landscape.
Try selling one Japanese garden, and all hell breaks loose. That's what UCLA is discovering after announcing plans to sell the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel-Air, which it has owned for more than 50 years, since 1964. The property also contains a lovely Georgian Colonial house and a traditional Japanese tea house. UCLA claims that the move is necessary due to budget cuts (the site costs over $100,000 a year to maintain, it says), and because the property serves no academic or research purposes. But garden and architecture lovers fear that the site—regarded as one of the nation's preeminent postwar gardens—will be in jeopardy if it transfers hands. UCLA says it hopes to find a responsible owner. We'll see how this shakes out.
This year’s Serpentine pavilion by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor opens on Friday, July 1. The first images reveal not just a simple structure of humble materials but also a new type of collaboration for the Serpentine series. Zumthor invited the Dutch planting designer Piet Oudolf to join the project, and although Zumthor retains top billing, his design gives Oudolf center stage. Oudolf recently shared a plan with us of his vibrant garden scheme that forms the heart of the timber-frame structure. Oudolf’s garden is in the center of the pavilion, whose walls are wrapped with burlap and coated in a grainy black paste. Visitors enter through doorways staggered along a set of exterior and interior walls, moving from the dark, shadowy hallway into a bright, flower-filled atrium that is open to the sky, with Prussian blue benches running around the perimeter and scattered folding chairs and tables designed by Zumthor. Over 20 varieties of densely packed plantings, from elegant irises to untamed grasses, will grow to various heights, said Oudolf, with some chosen to add “vertical accents” and act as a screen, alternately obscuring and revealing activity on the opposite side of the atrium. And while the blooms will be visually arresting, they will not be overly fragrant. “Scent attracts bees and insects, so we really thought of scent as secondary rather than as a key part of the design. There is scent of course, but it’s just a backdrop to the experience,” said Oudolf, noting that the 1200-square-foot garden should comfortably accommodate 30 to 40 visitors at a time, and that the multiple entrances will ensure easy circulation around the garden bed. Oudolf said that Zumthor, who received the Serpentine commission last October, contacted him in January while visiting the Netherlands. The two had never worked together, but “He already knew he wanted to do something that created a particular atmosphere, and he had an idea for a kind of closed pavilion with a garden inside,” said Oudolf of Zumthor’s concept for a “hortus conclusus”—a secluded garden within a garden. Julia Peyton-Jones, director of the Serpentine, said the project “brings to mind Zumthor’s Bruder Klaus Chapel in Germany, which he’s called ‘a small space to be quiet,’” while co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist compared the context of the Zumthor-Oudolf collaboration to a Russian matryoschka doll: the pavilion garden sits within the larger grounds of the gallery, which itself is tucked into Kensington Gardens. Oudolf is best known in the U.S. for his planting design for the Phase I of the High Line in New York, where an unmanicured mix of indigenous grasses and flowers almost appear to grow wild. While the plants differ, Oudolf said that his garden for the Serpentine has a similar “unorganized, spontaneous” effect. For more details on the opening, check out Daniel Ayat's on-site coverage.
Sure, sports fields are great. But wouldn't it be cool if your school had a great garden? GOOD Magazine and the LA Unified School District think so too. They're looking for architects as well as teachers, students, parents and anyone else to create affordable, scalable, modular school garden designs that any school can use. There's more to it than you might think. Plans can include not only plants and plant beds but pathways, tool storage, irrigation schemes, greenhouses, benches, seating, trellises, plant beds, paths, trees, potting tables, farmstands, and so on.. It's a great idea to unleash creativity and learning in a place that's so often dominated by tests. Winning designers will attend a one-day workshop with landscape architect Mia Lehrer to refine their proposals, and one garden will be installed in a Los Angeles school by October. Submissions are due by June 15, and the winners will be chosen by July 1.