Contrast could not be any more impressive. In the middle of a large park in London stood a big, black box-shaped building with four clear-shaped openings on the sides. The entrances gave no hints as to what was to be found inside. Black, circular passageways continued the strict line of the exterior and the neatly cut bushes on the outside. This dark interspace closed one world behind us and led us into a totally different one. The small openings on the inside revealed a planted field bathed in gentle light and the singing of birds. The transition was efficient: it felt as though everything changed – the light, smell, sounds. The busy world was far away behind the walls.
This experience was created by two masters. The Swiss architect Peter Zumthor is known for a strong, minimalistic idiom, particularly reflected in the Therme Vals spa for which he has been awarded the Pritzker prize, also known as the Nobel of architecture. The spectacular courtyard garden was designed by the Dutchman Piet Oudolf who is often referred to as the father of grass gardens.
The black box pavilion was created in response to Serpentine Gallery’s invitation. Zumthor’s one-summer exhibit followed the lead of famous predecessors. The project has been ongoing since the beginning of the 21st century and has featured such masters as Jean Nouvel, Rem Koolhaas and Oscar Niermeyer. Zumthor’s and Oudolf’s work for summer 2011 succeeded in rising above the ordinary. Now, we can admire it from beautiful photos and a book.
Get garden inspiration and read more about Piet Oudolf in our Festive issue. Go and download your own at App Store!
Text and photos Ulla Koskinen