Gilles Brusset: Impacted by the brutality of the 20’s century wars, the region Hauts de France chose to celebrate tomorrow’s heritage and affirm its resilience in landscape art by creating an itinerary on the sites of a memory of the Great War: the gardens of peace in les Hauts-de-France.

This landscape project is unique and creates a brand new circuit of duty of remembrance. It was instigated by Arts & Jardins | Hauts-de-France and the mission of the centenary of the First World War and pays tribute to the nations who chose to embrace the cause of pacification of the modern world.

The gardens of peace  – which will in the end, spread themselves out over thirty sites thanks to the support of collectivities and sponsors – questions this peace and creates places to think, rest and self-reflect. Isn’t peace just an everyday companion that we are incapable of seeing and therefore sharing? And isn’t the artist the one who can magnify it?

The Armistice glade, in the Forest of Compiègne, is one of the most significant sites of World War One. The Armistice was signed there, on the 11th of November 1918, in a rail coach, today worldwide known.

The garden of the third train, designed by the landscaper Marc Blume, the artist Gilles Brusset and the architect Francesca Liggieri is a Franco-German project taking place around the allee, joining the parking to the glade, making it a memorable walk before discovering the location of the Armistice.

Inside the undergrowth, the three designers thought about a symbolic and plastic parallel between the trails of the trenches of the Great War and the shapes drawn by the filaments of the mycelium network. Following this pattern, the paths of the garden make their way windingly through the foliage, creating rounded and planted areas where different essences of the forest can be seen. Adding itself to this maze leading to the discovery of the undergrowth, an elongated bench crosses the garden and invites contemplation. A multitude of mirrors is inserted in this wooden bench reflecting the sky and the leaves like a third train reflecting peace.

The garden of the third train is an undergrowth garden which embraces the vastness of humus. It takes on the perception of the visitors through their movement in space and  encourage the discovery of a peacefull place by offering new, wringely and random paths.

He takes place like a third component between the trees and the people: a link that associates contemplation, meditation and celebration of life.

Light in the underwood

The garden guides the visitors to the light of the glade. The plants of this garden play with the light and slowly let it through making the walk an enriched spatial experience.

The freedom of wandering

Winding paths invites the visitor to discover the environment that witnessed an important part of our history.  This added walking space enhances the possibility of escaping the direct route to the glade and to freely wander through the forest becoming a vast monument of peace.

Extension of the routes

The shapes of the garden were inspired by a symbolic and plastic parallel between the trails of the trenches of the 14/18 war (attack and defend) and the figures drawn by the Mycelium (living and growing). The pattern of the mycelium network is in sync with the drawing of the allees and paths that cross the forest of Compiegne. It suggests the idea of an unlimited garden, always expanding as one walks through it.

The principal axis of the composition of the garden is materialised by the third train, a wooden sculpture which is 70m long. It echos to the two trains in which the Armistice of the 11th of November 1918 and the one of the 22nd of June 1940 where signed, in the glade of Rethondes.

The components of the garden are:

The earth and stone allees – they enable the individuals to walk through the underwood on dry ground. The pattern of the mycelium network inspired the drawing of these allees which create a capillary maze in the undergrowth meant to be discovered.

The gardened shapes – These rounded shapes are delimited by the allees and planted with essences of the forest. They are partially sealed with clay so that the raining waters won’t flow away and represent little forests.

The third train – Floating above the ground, the sculpture points towards the middle of the glade and crosses horizontally the underwood. It is decorated with tens of mirrors oriented towards the sky making the sculpture shimmer like a precious jewel in the woods. One can sit or lay down on it on a summer evening  contemplating the sky of peace filtered by the foliage

Concept, Design: Gilles Brusset


Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Francesca Liggieri + Marc Blume

Project location: France

Design year: 2018

Year Built:  2019

Photography: Pierre-Yves Brunaud

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