Peter Zumthor’s Garden Sanctuary

Peter Zumthor, considered one of the world’s great architects and a recent winner of the Pritzker Prize, recently partnered with Dutch horticulturalist and garden designer Piet Oudolf to create Hortus Conclusus, an enclosed garden, for the Serpentine Gallery in London, which sponsors a pavilion from a leading architects every summer. 

DesignBoom says the project realizes Zumthor’s vision of “a synthesized experience between architecture and vegetation.” Constructed of a lightweight timber frame wrapped in scrim and coated with a black “paste and sand mixture,” the pavilion’s stark exterior invites visitors in through a “matrix of dark hallways with intermittent streams of natural light.”

Then, visitors finally reach the secluded interior rich with Oudolf’s plantings, which are designed to attract insects and birds.

Zumthor described the ideas behind the design: “A garden is the most intimate landscape ensemble I know of. It is close to us. There we cultivate the plants we need. A garden requires care and protection. And so we encircle it, we defend it and fend for it. We give it shelter. The garden turns into a place. Enclosed gardens fascinate me. A forerunner of this fascination is my love of the fenced vegetable gardens on farms in the Alps, where farmers’ wives often planted flowers as well. I love the image of these small rectangles cut out of vast alpine meadows, the fence keeping the animals out. There is something else that strikes me in this image of a garden fenced off within the larger landscape around it: something small has found sanctuary within something big.”

UK newspaper reviews were almost entirely glowing, saying Zumthor and Oudolf’s approach was one of the most successful in the last ten years of pavilions. The Telegraph‘s architecture critic said: “What I love most is how generous the design feels. It celebrates everything within and around itself: Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf’s centerpiece, a meadow of cow-parsley and mixed wild grasses (he was given free reign by Zumthor) becomes the focal point.”

The pavilion will be open until October 16.

Learn more about the pavilion, see more images, and read a New York Times profile on Zumthor.

Image credits: (1) Entrance to pavilion. Peter Zumthor / Walter Herfst, (2) Interior walkway. Peter Zumthor / Walter Herfst, (3) Plantings. Peter Zumthor / John Offenbach, (4) Plantings. Peter Zumthor / Walter Herfst

One thought on “Peter Zumthor’s Garden Sanctuary

  1. DanEastSide 07/17/2011 / 11:04 am

    Beautiful architecture, Peter Zumthordoes what he does best, “lets the light in”.

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