International Garden Festival 2021 celebrates the magic of the great outdoors

The 22nd edition of the International Garden Festival at Grand-Métis, Canada, provides a blank canvas for architects and designers to explore the festival's theme 'Magic lies outside'.

by Devanshi ShahPublished on : Aug 16, 2021

Landscape design has the unique ability to be read from two perspectives. One is the eye-level, where the landscape is viewed at a human scale, and is tangible and experiential. The other is the aerial view. This perspective immediately creates a distance between the experience and the design. In an aerial view the gestures of the landscape architects or designer ideas are made clear, visitors do not necessarily see this, yet their experience is driven by the design gestures. The separation between a garden sculpture and a landscape object can be analysed through this shifting perspective as well. The International Garden Festival in Grand-Métis, Canada, provides an interesting blank canvas for architects and landscape architects to visualise this duality. Hosted at Reford Gardens for its 22nd edition, the festival is based on the theme ‘Magic lies outside’. Five projects from across Canada, the United States, France and Sweden have been selected for this iteration of the festival and added to the current gardens to create an open-air museum and cultural space. Each of the projects addresses the impact of the global lockdowns using landscape architecture as a tool to highlight the magic of being able to step outside.

Detailed view of Choose your Own Adventure | International Garden Festival in Canada| STIRworld
Detailed view of Choose your Own Adventure Image: JC Lemay

Porte-bonheur

Playing with the idea of what a door indicates, Porte-bonheur looks at how doors have taken on a different meaning this past year. Doors all over the world remained shut and became barriers of protection, as opposed to being a departure point, or a gateway to a new adventure. The installation invites visitors to cross multiple thresholds, to make up for lost time. Resembling a visual trope often seen in cartoons, the seemingly endless series of doors inspires a child-like wonder. Porte-bonheur reawakens the fantasy of the outdoors, where the doorway becomes a portal.

Designed by David Bonnard, architect at DE-HMONP; Laura Giuliani, landscaper; and Amélie Viale, visual artist.

  • Aerial view of Porte-bonheur | International Garden Festival in Canada | STIRworld
    Aerial view of Porte-bonheur Image: JC Lemay
  • Porte-bonheur by David Bonnard, Laura Giuliani, and Amélie Viale | International Garden Festival in Canada | STIRworld
    Porte-bonheur by David Bonnard, Laura Giuliani, and Amélie Viale Image: Nancy Guignard

Hässja

A poetic retelling of an object one is likely to see on a farm, Hässja is inspired by hay-drying structures. Becoming an increasingly lost art, the installation consists of three structures, made out of the same plants surrounding them. Unlike normal hay-drying structures, these have an interior room, which act as a refuge from the world. A reflective space, the interiority of these structures is meant to highlight man’s relation to nature, to past, and perhaps inspire ideas of future ways of inhabiting land. The core idea of this installation has a very contemporary resonance, as it explores the regained interest in traditional, sustainable ways of inhabiting the world.

Design by architect Emil Bäckström.

  • Aerial view of Hässja | International Garden Festival in Canada | STIRworld
    Aerial view of Hässja Image: JC Lemay
  • Hässja by Emil Bäckström | International Garden Festival in Canada | STIRworld
    Hässja by Emil Bäckström Image: Nancy Guignard

Miroirs acoustiques

Of all the five installations at the festival, Miroirs acoustiques is perhaps the most sculptural. It reads as an individual object that embeds itself into an existing landscape. The installation consists of two parabolic reflectors, made from recycled aluminium antennas, planted in the ground. These are inspired by the sound mirrors, which are passive devices used to reflect and focus sound waves. Historically, they were implemented across the coast of Great Britain during World War I to detect incoming enemy aircraft. Sound waves bounce off the parabolic reflector and meet at the focal point where they are amplified, creating the illusion that whatever is making the sound is right next to you. In this situation visitors are invited to experience the two contrasting soundscapes of the surrounding garden. While the physicality of the installation may seem like it is not integrated into the surroundings, it is in fact connecting intangible aspects of the landscape.

Designed by landscape architects Emmanuelle Loslier and Camille Zaroubi.

  • Miroirs acoustiques | International Garden Festival in Canada | STIRworld
    Miroirs acoustiques Image: Nancy Guignard
  • Miroirs acoustiques by Emmanuelle Loslier and Camille Zaroubi | International Garden Festival in Canada | STIRworld
    Miroirs acoustiques by Emmanuelle Loslier and Camille Zaroubi Image: JC Lemay

Choose your Own Adventure

Perhaps the most garden-like layout, Choose Your Own Adventure is a diagonal grid set within a rectangle. Smaller sections of the garden are designed to challenge the images of nature that were popular social media features pre-pandemic. The grid running East-West consists of bands of plants, which is intercepted by the North-South bands which consist of different hardscaping. This particular landscape feature certainly has a very different aerial and experienced view. Depending on where one chooses to view the garden from, the visitor gets a unique sensorial experience, heightened through the simple matrix that forms the garden. The idea is to Choose Your Own Adventure, of smell, touch, listen, taste and see.

Designed by Balmori Associates (Noémie Lafaurie-Debany, Javier Gonzalez-Campana, Simon Escabi, Chris Liao, Cristina Preciado, landscapers and urban planners).

  • Aerial view of Choose your Own Adventure | International Garden Festival in Canada | STIRworld
    Aerial view of Choose your Own Adventure Image: Antoine Proulx, Nancy Guignard
  • Choose your Own Adventure by Balmori Associates | International Garden Festival in Canada | STIRworld
    Choose your Own Adventure by Balmori Associates Image: JC Lemay

Open Space

A literal translation of the title, the installation is a deconstruction of a typical house. Individual planes of the house are flattened and opened out to create an open floor plan with endless possibilities. Everyday household elements like doors, staircases, windows and walls take on a new meaning. Houses have become a symbol of lockdown, here the installation acts a symbol of hope. Open Space re-modulates the house as a playground where your imagination can run wild, and magic is around every corner.

Designed by Legaga (Quebec-based intern architects—Gabriel Lemelin, Francis Gaignard, Sandrine Gaulin).

  • Detail of Open Space | International Garden Festival in Canada | STIRworld
    Open Space - Detail Image: JC Lemay
  • Open Space by Legaga | International Garden Festival in Canada | STIRworld
    Open Space by Legaga Image: Martin Bond

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