La Grotte Verdoyante

A collaboration with the GRIT Lab at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.

This proposal for the 2013 Jardins de Métis/Redford Gardens Festival elevates and objectifies the artifice of the grotto respective of Mannerist gardens of the 16th century. Whereas the lush plantings of Italian gardens were complemented by the hard, rock-like representations of caves, La Grotte Verdoyante inverts the relationship between hard-scape and soft-scape.

The garden’s ground-plane consists of crushed gravel, while the undulating vertical services within the grotto are home to a variety of moss species. The moss acts a natural insulator of the space within resulting in a notable contrast between interior and exterior conditions. As one crosses the threshold into the grotto, the sound of crushed gravel underfoot is absorbed by the surrounding moss medium while the chamber provides a cool and humidified place to retreat from the sun.

Clad with charred wood, the angular geometry of the exterior form contrasts stongly with the soft green interior. The process of burning the face of cedar boards to achieve a charred skin is known to protect the boards from weathering, rot and infestation. The narritive of death and imperviousness contrasts with the growth and porosity of supple and varied moss interior interior.

La Grotte Verdoyante is positioned as an object within an undifferentiated field. It’s experience is central rather than peripheral to the garden-at-large, while privileging the sensorial engagement of visitors to Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens.