Reflections on Landscape

Reflections on Landscape is initiated and executed by architectural historian Lara Voerman and garden designer Joost Emmerik. It is a design and research project focusing on the representation of local landscapes within the confined space of gardens and public space.

Garden tours through Denmark, England, Italy and Germany learned us that the gardens we found most poetical, formidable and memorable were often visual and conceptual strongly tied to the landscape of the country or region. In post war Denmark for example, garden and landscape architects turned to the Danish cultural landscape for inspiration. They abstracted the hedges, fields and forests of the typical agrarian landscape in their designs, resulting in a series of characteristic, logical and pleasant gardens and parks. The trauma of the war, the threat of loosing ones national identity to a foreign power, acted as a catalyst for designing with the national landscape as bearer of meaning.

A first exploratory research brought to light a historical and international family of designs which represented a specific landscape. The Ira Keller Fountain (1970) by Lawrence Halprin for example represents the falls east of the city. Roberto Burle Marx abstracted the Brazilian jungle to the Raul de Souza garden (1983), while the station square in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn (2003) by Lodewijk Baljon brings the nearby landscape of the Veluwe to the heart of the city. Gunther Vogt translated the natural landscape of the Rhine Valley to his design for the Novartis Campus (2006) in Zurich Switzerland.

What drives garden- and landscape architects to turn to one of the most meaningful symbols of a country or region: its landscape? And how do they realise this representation on site: by miniaturisation, abstraction or a cut-out?