A vast city park with a great museum spread over different pavilions is a real asset to any city. So the city of Warsaw has a real treasure, which is obviously and lovingly cherished by its inhabitants. On a European scale this park is exceptional with its history in building and park architecture, with its interesting variety of environments, with its richness in pavilions, with its scale and with its variety in waterways. It is a real treat to visit and experience the Park and Royal Lazienki Museum.
And now the museum has the vision of creating a new and contemporary garden on a left over piece of land on the southwest side of its border (now still a quite uninteresting part of the park) and to combine this ‘Garden of the 21st Century’ with a pavilion for temporary exhibitions of all sorts. A contemporary garden with a contemporary exhibition hall. A very exciting perspective.
Through centuries gardens have always been the expression of the relationship of humanity towards nature. In medieval times the gardens were introvert, enclosed and inward looking. Keeping out the dangers lying in nature surrounding humanity at that moment. In the Renaissance people started looking outwards. Discovering the benefits and pleasure of nature. As a result gardens gradually open up to nature. The formal French gardens are the ultimate expression of man’s dominance over nature. In the landscape style period working with nature towards idealistic, uncorrupted and very pastoral landscapes became the driving theme. (‘What is is the great guide as to what ought to be’, Joseph Spence 1756). In modernist period we thought we could make our world both physically and socially. Now we know better. We can only make our world to a certain extent and with the help of society and especially nature.
So what is our present attitude, our relationship towards nature? It is in our power to dominate and exploit nature and our natural resources but in the end to the detriment of our selves. We gradually become aware of our responsibilities to take care of our planet and to respond maturely towards the problems facing the earth because of the very consuming and exploiting attitude of humanity. So our awakening attitude towards nature is that of respect for and a willingness to really understand and work with the forces of nature. And this contemporary attitude towards nature should be presented in this garden of the 21st century.
We propose a prairie. A flowering meadow in which the richness and variety of nature is exposed, which is inviting and can be entered and experienced informally and by everybody. An open, democratic, spacious and joyful garden for everybody but with a multi layered meaning for the informed observer, the plants man or women. A natural flowering meadow that is maintained not by intensive pruning, planting and weeding. No. A continually changing meadow that is carefully composed to suit this specific location in this specific climate and that is able to gradually enrich itself by careful and loving coaching. A meadow that is beautiful in all seasons, not because it always flowers, but because it show that there is beauty in every season, even in winter when the plants stay uncut to show their abstract basic forms and often expressive seedpods.
The 21st Century garden fits into the location like a hand into a glove. It keeps a respectful distance towards its boundaries so that the trees can grow undisturbed towards monumentality. In that way becoming like the rest of the present park. The edge of the undulating garden is well defined by a broad path and adjacent retaining wall and balustrade which functions also as a long and informal bench.
Like all the other pavilions and palaces this garden with pavilion has its own position without relating to any of the other buildings. In that way this contemporary building and garden fits into the tradition of the Royal Lazienki Park and Museum.
Both the garden and pavilion will provide new cultural life to the park with its many museums. The pavilion will host large temporary exhibitions, whereas the garden will play a role in local environmental education as well as be an example of 21st century landscape architecture.