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Bringing Design Into Play: International Garden Festival, 2018 Edition

At its annual installation site at the Reford Gardens/Jardins de Métis, the International Garden Festival is presenting seven new landscape designs that build upon the concept of play that was established during the Festival last year (see Canadian Architect, August 2017). Chosen from 148 submissions by over 700 architects, landscape architects, artists and designers, these installations highlight the beauty of Elsie Reford’s historic gardens while bringing contemporary forms into focus. Imaginative and interactive, the installations follow a theme that en- courages visitors to “Go Outside and Play!”


International Garden Festival, Reford Gardens
The “aMAIZEing” International Garden Festival installation by Marta Milà Pascual and Marc Torrellas Arnedo

This installation, designed by Spanish architects Marta Milà Pascual and Marc Torrellas Arnedo, emphasizes three aspects of play–shapes, movement and change. The installation features a cornfield maze that grows and adapts over time. As visitors interact with circular objects on the plot of land, such as a trampoline, they discover different perspectives of the same elements—an “amazing” and unique experience for all.

Les hélicoptères

International Garden Festival, Reford Gardens
Rendering of “Les hélicoptères” by Carson Isenor and Anna Thomas.

Vancouver-based landscape designer Carson Isenor and landscape architecture graduate student Anna Thomas have created thousands of colourful samara seed replicas frozen in time, evoking nostalgia for visitors who played helicopter with them as children. Calling attention to the lifecycle of the maple tree from which these samara seeds are born, the project seeks to spark interest in and appreciation for its natural beauty and form.

AssembleInternational Garden Festival, Reford Gardens
This project is by landscape designer Katie Strang, artist/carpenter Christine Dewancker and designer Craig Van Ravens, all Toronto- based. The installation invites people to gather small wooden sticks and assemble them into brightly painted structures to form bush huts. When combined, the branches and vibrant bases create a beautiful and striking composition, bringing the organic and abstract into play in this natural garden setting.

La ligne de 100 ans

International Garden Festival, Reford Gardens
“La ligne de 100 ans,” by Étienne Bernier, Marianne Charbonneau, Mélanie Dereymez, Théo Jarrand and Steeven Bérubé.

The team of Étienne Bernier, Marianne Charbonneau, Mélanie Dereymez, Théo Jarrand and Steeven Bérubé—all from the Quebec City-based design firm Hatem+D—has built an allegory.

On this site, a catastrophic flood is reimagined as a happy childhood dream, inspiring visitors to experience the pleasure of floating freely atop rising waters and sunken houses. Individual paddle boats can be used to explore submerged cabins from Deborah Nagan’s 2009 installation Every garden needs a shed and a lawn, giving new life to this original work.

L’origine de la colonneInternational Garden Festival, Reford Gardens
Inspired by Vitruvius’ principle that architecture imitates nature, Spanish artist-architects Josep Congost and Louis Sicard used columns to emu- late trees–a base as a root, stem as a trunk, capital as a branch, and groove as bark. When combined, the columns form a unique forest or temple, bringing architecture into conversation with its natural surroundings.

Le rocher très percéInternational Garden Festival, Reford Gardens
In Percé, Quebec, a gigantic rock juts out over the ocean. Dangerous to access but beautiful to see, the rock is one of the world’s largest natural arches in water. Here, a reinterpretation is deposited in the garden landscape, inviting people to touch, climb, circle and observe. The mysterious icon is experienced up close, with its symbolism visible for all to see. Stéphanie Cardinal, Olivier Laplante-Goulet and Lorelei L’Affeter of HUMÀ Design and landscape architect Vincent Lemay, all Montreal-based, brought this project to fruition.

Based on the concept of a landscape in motion, the Vancouver architecture firm ISO has reinterpreted the classic merry-go-round for the modern visitor. Here, an endless loop invites users to immerse them- selves in the surrounding trees and vegetation and experience an intimate connection to the expansive forest. The ISO team includes Nuala O’Donnell, Maxwell Schnutgen and Etienne Issa.

The International Garden Festival runs until October 7.

Shannon Moore is a staff writer with the National Gallery of Canada, and a contributor to art and design journals across the country.