Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Ecological Landscapes at the Canadian Centre for Architecture

From May 11 to July 30, 2006, the Canadian Centre for Architecture in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Montral presents Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Ecological Landscapes, an exhibition in the Octagonal Gallery on the work of Vancouver landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander. Featuring material from the newly completed Oberlander Archive at the CCA and photographs by Etta Gerdes, the exhibition demonstrates Oberlander’s pioneering vision of socially conscious and environmentally sustainable landscape design.

The exhibition highlights selected projects by Oberlander that have been executed in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Yellowknife, and Berlin over a period of more than 30 years. Drawings and writings from the CCA’s Cornelia Hahn Oberlander Archive, as well as photographs taken by the young German photographer Etta Gerdes in 2005, situate each project within the larger context of Oberlander’s lifelong philosophical and practical approach to design.

One of North America’s most accomplished and celebrated landscape architects, Oberlander has shaped Canadian cities with parks and roof gardens in a style all her own. Her simple yet technically innovative designs express a deep commitment to environmental sustainability and quality of life. Natural and architectural elements are seamlessly integrated, creating healthy an enjoyable spaces that respond to the needs of inhabitants and bring nature into densely built up urban areas. Her projects capture the ecological and social specificities of a site, while referring to the larger context of the Canadian landscape. Indeed, a site plays a crucial role in the development of her designs: as she herself says, landscape architecture “must be viewed holistically in terms of plant relationships as well as the genius loci, or spirit of the place.”

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