When an artistic vision meets landscape architecture, a project of a unique kind evolves. In the search for a temporary art base for PLATO, a contemporary visual arts platform funded by the city of Ostrava, abandoned Hobby market with 5.000 sqm hall was occupied. The wide space had great potential, while the indoor area could perform as a gallery and events space, the walled and semi-roofed outdoor space, would become an atypical garden/stage for all different sorts of gallery’s activities. PLATO was searching for the idea how to make it work.
In collaboration with artist Matyáš Chochola, an apocalyptic scene was imagined that would conceptually reflect the dark and inevitable doom of mankind with a optimism of nature’s regenerative power. A Dance on the ruins of civilization. The idea was to accelerate the power of nature and help her to take the place back. To scar and destroy and then sow vegetation and nurture seeds of life onto the ground of a perishing building.
We knew this was no ordinary project but with every limitation it became even more interesting. At first we want to drill and lift out the concrete, decision was deemed too invasive so we decided to bring in a setting of rubble. A site plan was drawn to estimate the volume of debris and number of plants/trees needed. The rest of the design has to be in-situ.
The trees themselves need a special mention in this story. Regarded as undesirable and crooked they were saved from a small nursey that couldn‘t sell them. These abandoned and outcast trees were the perfect match for this conceptual space.
Time was a ticking challenge, everything was moving fast. Rubble had to be urgently moved from nearby construction site. That meant we would have only one day to use the available machines to organize and design the space and another day to plant the vegetation and art pieces. We needed every woman and man.
Little did we know this was going to be one of the most thrilling team-building experience for us. The improvisation and creative collaboration of both our studio, artists and construction workers carved an unforgettable impression and story for the birth of this space. The conclusion of the work and hence opening of the garden was declared with an artistic performance by Matyáš Chochola and his team, depicting wild expressions of dark joy, a sort of dancing ritual on the ruins of an extinct civilization.
Beyond the conceptual pessimism, this garden behaves as a truely functional and inspirational public space. It has everything a vibrant place needs: a cafe, semi-shade, walls with large windows creating a safe lively space for all age groups. It‘s a flexible site that works in different seasons and for multi-purposes. It is a site that leaves people questioning. It draws the curious ones in to explore the details and pieces upclose and attracts the active ones ro run around for a hide/seek game.
Since the opening plants took off much better then we imagined. It gives shivers, walking around the rubble and see how fast and powerful the natural change is.
Architecture offices involved in the design: Partero + Matyáš Chochola (artist),
video – Rustan Soderling
Project location: Ostrava, Czech Republic