Hortus Conclusus

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The Circular Garden

The garden is an enclosed place, interior, and exterior at the same time, intended to protect its inner good: the plants and the soil, processes and information, animals, and micro-organisms. The boundaries of the garden are physically present as a fence or wall but are also virtually defined by the boundaries of a property, structure of vegetation patterns, and spheres of influence. But the border is also an illusion: the garden‘s biosphere is inextricably linked to its surroundings and is influenced by every change in its parameters. Insects, birds, and mammals have their own range of motion that overcomes walls and fences, while the plants stretch their roots and branches in all directions and distribute their seeds with the wind into unsettled areas. The Garden questions the notion of inside and outside — we can enter it, hide in it but a the same time we are located ‚outside‘ of our built environment. If the garden is imagined as a room, we have to question what ‘material’ it is made of. Are the Plants and vegetation the structural skeleton of this ‘room’ or are they the actors and inhabitants? Are they the background scenery for anthropocentric narratives of are they creating their own complex stories. 

The Garden is also an emotional projection in times of imminent ecological collapse due to climate change and anthropogenic consumerism. It is an idealized symbol for a nature we have already forgotten a long time ago. The structure provides a protected container, for a variety of plant and animal species, and is the scenery for the play of natural cycles and a regeneration spot for local species. 

The Garden is a labyrinth, meant to get lost in its overgrown structures. The human intruder enters in the center and can explore paths to the outside, but never permeate the border. The threshold to enter it — take the elevated bridge along the U2-subway tracks — let only pass a view people at a time and make the garden to an intimate space.

The circle as geometry creates the largest area with the smallest outer edge, it has a defined center and is about to expand to the periphery in all directions. Former Greenhouse skeletons along the circles’ outline create the physical boundary of the garden — defining an oscillating existence of inside and outside. The circular motif refers to the typology of the panorama. As a built structure, it can only be entered from the center; the intruder’s gaze is drawn to the inside of its enclosure, producing an artificial horizon. The impressions of the respective viewer are projected onto the virtual screen of the translucent glass panels as subjective imaginations of nature.

The circle is a cell with a nucleus for information storage (Seed archive), a membrane for protection and metabolism (The Wall), and a multitude of organisms that drive the growth and decay processes inside (Vegetation Patterns, Parasitic Village). The cell wants to divide itself to expand and connect with others, reactivate an exhausted urban landscape, create healthy soil, and let grow a feral forest city in the future.

The circle refers to the oil tank (Lobau), which derives its characteristic cylindrical shape from the structural need to contain a liquid material. The cylinder as a basic geometry, as a circle extruded in the third dimension, also marks a psychic container that protects stored ideas and information from the environment. As a Funktionskreis des Lebendigen, the circle defines an experimental area, a stage for natural processes to play. Its lack of program is also its intention: To let happen what creates itself if nothing is done (Wildwuchs on a fallow).

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