To Zaha Hadid at the Design Museum at the weekend. I feel like a bit of a philistine saying this but I had no idea about her work before going, except for one image of the firestation she designed in Germany. This is partly because, as the exhibition points out, for a long time virtually nothing she designed got built. (Some visitors may remark, thank goodness. Not me though.)
My brain grappled with what she’s trying to do, and I can almost see myself going back for another visit once I’ve processed it all. She’s been called a “visionary architect” and you can see why – her buildings look like Russian constructivist paintings perched on dramatic hilltops. I guess it helps that she’s been commissioned for some of the world’s most futuristic looking sites – waterfronts in the Emirates, shopping centres for Kazakhstan, and the flattened top of a vast mountain in Hong Kong.
What do we mean by a “visionary” designer, though? I think it means: someone who can imagine new things, which are nothing like anything we’ve got now.
And immediately I see it in that way, I begin to like the idea. Could we get a bit of that for gardening?
nearest we have to a recent “visionary” is probably Piet Oudolf, who
completely re-imagined the herbaceous border. So is gardening
necessarily a rather conservative discipline, just because it tends to
interest slightly (cough cough) older people?
through Katie Campbell’s book Icons of Twentieth Century Landscape Design for
about the 19th time this year, I don’t think this can be true.
Visionary landscapes were created all throughout the 20th century,
if her book is to be believed (and I think we can, there are photos and
everything). Thomas Church’s California style, Burle Marx’s
post-colonial Brazilian planting, Gaudi’s Parc Guell. Even Robert
Irwin’s deranged Getty Garden.
Why do we have to wait so long, as gardeners, for someone to think up something so completely new?
(MAXXI: Centre of Contemporary Arts, Rome, Italy, Zaha Hadid Architects, for completion 2008, Photographer: Helene Binet)