Building a garden means undertaking a process that is never finished. The ways it is filled determine its shape.
In November 2007 atelier le balto built Avant Garden. Located between the wall of Matadero Madrid that runs along the Paseo de la Chopera and the building which houses the Intermediae space. An extremely shady hollow – although it gets sun in the morning and at sunset -, with very poor soil and full of a significant number of elm trees that grew from the seeds of the trees along the boulevard.
To define it, the following elements were taken into consideration: its narrowness, its unusual light, the poor soil, the elm trees and other spontaneous plants growing there, tree stumps, plants growing among the bricks in the wall near the gutters; the rhythm of the pillars of the wall and the building’s windows, the gargoyles, red brick, metal ramp leading to the buildings, and the stairway leading nowhere at the back of the plot.
The poor soil is kept as is. The addition of gravel does not change the nature of the soil but instead adds unity to the garden as a whole. The colour of the gravel makes the colours of the building’s bricks stand out. The watering system is not hidden: it is a vital part of the garden and as such is clearly on view, forming part of the atmosphere. In order to have some plants that need better soil, “implants” are used to make that possible. And the implants have transformed Avant Garden into a wild rose garden, a garden shared by local residents, visitors, creators, workers, passers-by… a place for sharing and exchanges; a place to learn and enjoy, for rest and pleasure.
The wild roses are the protagonists of Avant Garden. Three types of rose bushes were chosen to offer a variety of heights: ground or low rose bushes, medium-height rose bushes – as tall as a person; and climbing roses or rose bushes that grow upwards. Among these three types, ten different rose varieties were chosen.
atelier lebalto’s advice for taking care of Avant Garden is as follows:
- Observe how the plants do over time.
- Foster the growth of some of them and cut some of them back.
- Care for them with water and soil fertilized with compost.
- Work on the garden in such a way that visitors barely notice it.
- Encourage the creation of and respect for natural balance, which will gradually come to pass.
- Prune the rose bushes to strengthen their natural impulses. To do so, the gardener will pay special attention to where visitors walk, the heights of their hips and shoulders, and then their eyes and even higher.
Once a month, specific workshops are held to care for the garden in keeping with atelier le balto’s concept and work philosophy.
The garden, in addition to being a space that is a metaphor for process, a gesture to be multiplied and transformed, is a platform for research to propose sustainable human habitats. (permacultura)