2013 WORLD LANDSCAPE ART EXPOSITION
Jinzhou | China
The 2013 CHINA JINZHOU WORLD LANDSCAPE ART EXPOSITION incorporated 20 gardens that resulted from an international design competition in early 2011. Supported by the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) in association with Jinzhou City and Jcom China Co Ltd, the Exposition, which opened to the public in May, presents the work of contemporary landscape architects from around the world. The new park created by the Expo covers an area of 176 hectares located in the northern half of West Haiping Residential Area and forms a permanent central park for the city.
The theme of the expo “landscape architecture and garden arts unite all peoples: world civilizations, world cultures come together in Jinzhou” encouraged all landscape architects to reflect their own cultural background in designing contemporary gardens within the EXPO site.
Eladio Hernando was one of 20 landscape architects who’s design concepts were selected for construction at the EXPO. His proposal titled OUT-IN-SIDE, is a simple/unpretentious design that updates the Spanish enclosed atrium in to an open cloister connected with its surroundings.
The design of OUT-IN-SIDE is to create a space with different cultural roots to those of the visitors who will engage with it in a variety of ways. The design seeks to incorporate common elements and expressions that have occurred throughout the history of Chinese and Spanish cultures. One of the elements shared by these two cultures has been the continued presence of covered corridors organizing and communicating the various spaces. In Spain these spaces have been traditionally treated as boundary areas that define a central landscaped courtyard but always closed (e.g. Roman peristylum1, Arab courtyard2 or monastery cloister3).
In Chinese gardens, however, these corridors escape beyond the enclosures4 to communicate with other areas such as pavilions or gardens5. It is in these cases where some of the sense of enclosure and protection starts to break down and a degree of permeability is introduced. This is a fundamental design feature of the OUT-IN-SIDE concept that reinterprets the traditional atrium.
Here, the idea of opening and expanding an enclosed space in the form of a courtyard has been applied not only in the use of the site itself but also on the form of the garden design. The courtyard abandons its closure, the quadrilateral and its opacity to become an open and transparent pentangle in which edges do not separate indoor from outdoor but functions as a transition between the two spaces.
A skin of rusty reinforcing bars6, which allow to views through it, helps to create a degree of privacy in certain small spaces that allow rest and contemplation through a series of continuous benches located throughout the site, using the material employed in the atrium structure: timber. Just one other material is used to complete this pentangle: slate stone for the floor. This grey/black strong texture generates high contrast with the golden sand of “albero”, which serves as a canvas for the whole.
The circular plots designated for the individual gardens are between 2 and 3 thousand square meters in area, defined by vegetation enclosing each one and providing a sense of separation. They function as clearings within the forest in a similar way as the “castros”, which were pre-Roman hillforts7. Castros are archaeological pieces of land-art that have survived over many centuries, forming part of a rich cultural heritage and demonstrating another way of building in Western Europe.
These archaeological sites have been part of Eladio’s imaginary from an early age, revealing an involuntary artistic expression in the midst of nature linked to a past lost in time. Its texture8, which is full of ancestral references, was chosen to create the interior garden of the cloister where, as in the Spanish mountains, it is integrated with nature, which after thousands of years, is trying to recover the space.
An organic series of small cylinder-shaped elements is randomly distributed across the site, creating benches, planters and pavilions in which to perform, transforming the garden into a place that is also suited for cultural events9.
Turning the story around, we could say that this imaginary of the design concept reflects the remains of a virtual Cloister, represented in its original quadrangle through a water sheet, which is another common element in Spanish and Chinese cultures. The water element is made walkable by a metal mesh that is flush with the water surface. This element adds a new texture and a new use linked to the concept of permeability and the possibility, recalling well-known passages of the Bible, to walk, in a non-miraculous way, on water.