Mundula / An Investigation of the Significance of Wilderness in Western Culture through Garden Design

An Investigation of the Significance of Wilderness in Western Culture through Garden Design

Author: Silvia Maria Mundula, Politecnico di Milano

Supervisor: Alessandro Rocca, Professor Dr., (Polimi), AUID, DAStU, Politecnico di Milano

Research stage: Initial doctoral stage

Category: Paper

DDR Statement

The garden is firstly examined as a tool that contributes to modify users and designers’ perception of certain issues brought to light by the Anthropocene crisis; and, secondly, it is used as a reference for a post-human design method. This idea has its origins in Marc Treib’s Meaning in Landscape Architecture and Gardens (2011) and in Julian Raxworthy’s Overgrown: Practice between Landscape Architecture and Gardening (2018). According to Treib the meaning of gardens, as interpreted by critics, is also significant because it can situate a garden within the field of practice. Raxworthy re-evaluates the practice of gardening within the context of landscape architecture, proposing a new model for landscape architecture based on gardening techniques, that he calls “the viridic.” The term “viridis” is the Latin word for green, so “viridesco,” according to Raxworthy, is to landscape architecture what “tectonic” is to architecture. The wild garden pushes this concept to its limit, as the form of this garden emerges not only through gardening techniques, but in particular through gardening techniques, which are mainly concerned with the process of growth.1

My thesis aims to identify practical theories and future perspectives for the wild garden, by providing some insights into contemporary approaches to wilderness in garden design. Projects have been selected by the theme they reflect, and not by historical criteria. This part of my thesis can be seen as a web, which connects the differing approaches to the design of the wild garden. The connection points of this web are different approaches to the design of the wild garden, encompassing conceptual and technical issues, as well as case studies.

  1. “Ideas of growth and change are now in the Zeitgeist of both architecture and landscape architecture in what I call ‘the process discourse.’ The process discourse refers to designers and theorists who see natural and cultural processes, described in scientific terms, as the source of dynamic design suited to a world that is different from the past because of flows of information, for example. The models of process they use generally come from nature. In architecture, morphogenesis and biomimicry seek to use parametric systems derived from nature to animate the inorganic. In landscape architecture, subfields like landscape urbanism look to ecology to develop instrumental ways of working with natural processes, such as hydrology, in the city” Raxworthy, Julian (2018): Overgrown: Practice between Landscape Architecture and Gardening, Cambridge MA: MIT Press. p. 3.