Ohio, US | 1997


The architecture of the garden, more that that of mere buildings, has historically encompassed the full range and implications of man's engagement with the material environment. A more or less permanent feature of western architecture (from classicism to the various modernisms) has been the almost ineradicable idea that there exists a permanent and unchanging essence behind the world of appearances, that such essences universalize themselves in fixed simple geometries and timeless typologies. Time thus makes itself evident within two distinct yet related schemas: First, architecture as a stable and unchanging framework within which, and against which, the temporal unfolds; and second, how the mutable nature of nature can be made to approach or deviate from a certain ideal. In the 18the century French topiary garden for example, where the relative crudity or refinement of simple geometrical forms in plant materials serve to establish the norms and limits for their speculation and enjoyment. These schemas are then locked in a perpetual circularity with permanence set against change and vice-versa. If, however, we shift our focus from such static models of nature and architecture to dynamical (essentially time-based) systems then a new horizon of possibilities emerges. 'Time in other words, reappears in the world as something real, as a destabalizing but creative milieu.' That is to say time is not understood to be prior to, above, or separate from the material world but is engendered by, and finds it particular incarnations in it. This material geometry constitutes the 'primitive' through which a hierarchical series of global and local transformations (warps, dimples, folds) are expressed. Extreme and unstable configurations in the topology are essentially built into the concrete substrate in order to express them in the vital media (water, soil, plant materials, and chemical salts) of the 'flow space' above. 'The topology of the substrate induces transformational events that introduce real discontinuities in the evolution of the media flowing on it. In such topological manifolds the characteristics of the mapped media are not determined by the quantitative substrate space below it but rather by the specific singularities of the 'flow space' of which it itself is part. This means that the 'dead' yet intensive geometry of the grooves excites material and/or biological novelty in the media. In literal and instrumental fashion multiform gradients in the geometry, 'diagram' and trigger, the gradients of growth inherent in natural systems and yield a prodigious, if only partially manageable, field of blooms.

Project Info

Type: Private Garden  |  Structure: Cast Concrete Tiling in Reinforced Concrete Pool


Project Credits


Jesse Reiser + Nanako Umemoto (in collaboration with Jeff Kipnis)


Design Team

David Ruy

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