Tracks of Landscape
Landscape architecture has evolved the close view of nature during hundreds of years, long before the environmental movement and international agreements on climate change. The robust relation to nature can be exemplified by the famous City Hall of Stockholm. It appears to be built on solid bedrock where the eastern terrace of the brick building rests on a piece of the Stockholm Archipelago. But if you look closely at the founding rock, you see that it is divided into smaller units. The rock is actually taken from the archipelago and moved to the site in pieces and joined together like a great jigsaw puzzle. The architect Ragnar Östberg and the leaders of the city in the 1920’s wanted to show that the City Hall stands firmly on solid ground and not in the deep mud, as it in fact does. Metaphorically, this illustrated a city government that is safe and secure. The approach also explains Stockholm as a city founded on a number of islands in the archipelago, like a Venice of the north.
This is an example of landscape architecture that consciously relates to the site, though the site here is completely man-made. Landscape architecture can be described as the transition between the built and natural world, which becomes obvious in this City hall case. Sven-Ingvar Andersson, once a professor at the Academy of Arts in Copenhagen, has put it this way; "The garden design idea is to make a connection between man and nature". However, man is still a part of that nature, and this dichotomy is there to help process the thought.
In my practice at Nyréns we deal with these ideas in our park projects. In addition to all the contributions of a park, like space for recreation and ecosystem services, they can also play a significant role for the urban citizens’ self-esteem. Taking this a step further, it is easy to see that not just the parks but rather the entire city, which is designed in a site-specific way, can help to clarify nature in a wide sense. The structure of parks, streets, and houses can make it possible for us to understand more about our own vulnerability, our dependence on nature for our survival, and thus our own nature of existence through time. This includes everything between urban planning and the detailed design of urban spaces, or even the formation of a bench made of stone.
This exhibition highlights urban landscape in three distinct projects in Stockholm. All of the landscapes are tied together through the bedrock, the soils, the water, and the climate around the city of Stockholm. The idea is to present the nature of the city, the Urban Nature. It is therefore an idea of sustainability; how to use resources wisely, etc. Furthermore, the concept is based on an article I wrote in the Journal of Garden History to introduce a topology of Stockholm parks and urban spaces. In this exhibition I show three of my own projects based on this typology: A Hilltop park, Årstabergsparken, a park in a Fissure valley, Norra Bantorget, and a Shoreline park, Hornsbergs Strandpark. The exhibition concept will be to show all three projects in a wooden model as a section of the landscape with layers of bedrock and soil underneath. Beside the model is a stone bench, available to sit on and interact with, to relate to the model, and to showcase the textural quality of Swedish bedrock.