270 Gardens of Delight for Métis 2010
For the organizers of the open international competition for the design of the Jardins de Métis 2010 (Reford Gardens), the 276 teams from 34 countries responded with talent and generosity: one thing is certain, they did not ask anyone for the keys to paradise, they designed the outlines, by imagining the forms, by sensing the fragrances.
For this unavoidable and, let us immediately add, abundant meeting of creativity, the question was challenging: “what does paradise look like today”? In fact, it called for an extraordinary brainstorming on current concepts and practices of landscape architecture. The result, unveiled here in its entirety, is offered as a dizzying kaleidoscopic view against which the board's work was certainly daunting. At least 5 projects emerge with honor. The "Veil Garden" by the architect and landscape team DIGSAU from Philadelphia relied on the very old myth of 4 elements (wind, fire, water, earth) organizing spaces of a perforated metal enclosure. The project by the Australian Housing Group plays on the desire for transgression, on the need to taste that which is on the other side of the fence: a ladder in equilibrium allows crossing the boundary between two backdrops hung with greenery. The third project selected, by a Canadian landscape architect exiled in the Netherlands, reminds us, with humor and critical thinking, the importance of the little worlds on the forest floor that our distracted feet tread upon: these micro natures (Tiny Taxonomy) become much smaller gardens of wonder. The jury also gave mention to two other projects (only two of 276?): the project “Dirt Roll” by another Holland team, laid down and rolled out with a great spirit of systems, the principle of rolls of lawn, while the group assembled in and around the collective called Ekip - well known in Montreal and its suburbs – reminds us of “the other side of paradise”, through these projects that are as hollow as mine sites, objects of desire and, lest we forget, devastation.
There's still much to say about the hundreds of ideas and points of view that this extraordinary edition of Métis 2010 delivers - hours of pleasure – to our insatiable curiosity. We will emphasize that the LEAP Laboratory, which assures the update of the Canadian Competitions Catalogue (CCC), has thus far, never documented as many projects for the same competition. It took over three weeks of work by students/assistants recruited for the task, to index thousands of documents, but we believe that the entire project, and therefore the event, is accessible to as many as possible: to those who will have the chance to discover firsthand the three gardens selected, and to those who will not discover them but through the CCC, at times, very far from Canada. Bear in mind that the CCC site is visited monthly by thousands of visitors from around the world and with this February 2010 update we have reached the figure of 2,000 projects for 73 documented competitions!
We suggest two ways to gauge the distressing vertigo which the jury had to face at the moment of selection: click on the + sign on the “List of Competitors” or better, move the cursor from left to right along the horizontal bar of projects. In his triptych entitled the "Garden of Delights" (1504), Jérôme Bosch, the last great painter of the Middle Ages, imagined thousands of wild forms, human and fantastic unfolding between heaven and hell: here are at least 270 more to put into the account of this great collective myth ...
(translated by Carmela Cucuzzella)