Name of project: Fray León Garden
Garden surface: 1.600 m2
Construction year: 2016
Location: Las Condes, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Architect of house: Maurizio Angelini
From the start, this small garden in Santiago was conceived and implemented in partnership with the architect of the house: Maurizio Angelini. Our fruitful collaboration produced what we see today: the architecture and the garden as a single unit where one experiences –from the moment they enter– the transparency of architecture of the house as being closely connected to the garden. It’s not obvious where the landscaping begins and the architecture ends.
Name of project: Agua Dulce Urbanization
Garden surface: 10 ha
Construction year: 2017
Location: Huentelauquen, Región de Coquimbo, Chile
This project sought to enhance and protect the existing Norte Chico ecosystem, a special area of the Chilean coast, in a magnificent geographic location: a large beach with dunes and a wonderful view of the green stretches of the coastal Andes. Temperatures are moderate throughout the year while rainfall is scarce.
On my first visit, I identified with the undulating language of the dunes and the shore, the jagged nature of the rocks and the presence of indigenous vegetation. Using these elements, I conceived a plan that respected the existing vegetation and introduced new native plants along with an irrigation system to encourage their growth.
The project includes an extensive residential project with 10 landscaped hectares in a location where the existing vegetation is practically untouched –especially in the gullies– and almost every species that grows in the region can be found.
It includes a central park, the ‘Encounters Park’, whose plan, paths and furniture are inspired by the geometry of an existing estuary that was channelled to protect the residential areas and control storm surges in winter. The natural footprint of the rainwater was converted into pedestrian paths and walkways, respecting and reinforcing the contours of the existing vegetation and creating rest areas, a play area and other recreational spaces.
Another park, the ‘Linear Park’, is located on a plain that happened to be flooded the previous winter, when the rainwater flowed freely over its surface. This inspired me to work in the same language, creating curves that follow the path of the water and an artificial ridge that leads to the sea.
Both parks include walls and furniture made from local stone and elements that evoke the gullies and streams, as well as benches that simulate the branches and tree trunks swept along by the water after heavy rainfall.
Another area, the ‘Plaza of the rocks’, is a promenade inspired by the angular language of the rocky coast with a wooden walkway that runs along the shore and over the outcrops to provide a pedestrian path from the cove across the beach and up to the hotel, cabins and viewpoint.
Project Name: El Roble Park
Garden Surface: 3.5 ha
Construction year: 1998
Location: Coelemu, Biobío Region, Chile
Architect of Main House: Jorge Ramírez and Ana María Amadori
Architect of Montes House: 57 Studio
Architect of Chapel: 57 Studio
The worksite was surrounded by many hectares of pine forest plantations that are still preserved today. Some abandoned houses in ruins remained, as well as various elements that had once belonged to a now defunct vineyard. The owners refurbished the existing buildings and built others, forming a sort of small village.
The design of the garden basically consisted of implementing a network of lanes, paths, observation points and resting places; their function being to connect the spaces through a variety of routes, like in a park.
This project is a good example of integrating a large number of built elements, aged trees, pine forests and some pockets of native flora.
Around the worksite there were pockets of vine that remained intact. Many large Carolina poplars and an araucaria angustifolia stood near a marshy spot. I thought this was the right environment to be the center of the whole project. The image that inspired my first visit was one of the landscapes of southern Chile, of large araucarias under which the ground is clothed in Antarctic beeches. I designated the most humid spot as a small lake, and around it I planted myrtles, honeysuckle, prickly heath, ferns, new araucarias and Japanese maples. Although exotic species were included, I had achieved my vision.
Each of the spaces I designed—the garden of the main house, the garden of the lake, the garden of the chapel and the garden of the Montes house—has its own characteristics, related to its individual topography and use.
The access to the main house is the most formal part of the complex. The oldest building, formerly the wine cellar, is also there. In front of the house, the space of the garden is organized in a symmetrical square.
The Montes house has the features of a lookout, since it is located at the highest point of the terrain and dominates the surroundings visually. A horse chestnut stands out, one of the oldest in the area.
The chapel garden is the most intimate space. It is located in an existing forest of Australian blackwood, where I created a humid undergrowth of mosses and ferns. There, one senses a monastic feeling of silence and calm.
Then there are the gardens belonging to the various old and secluded structures, small constructions now refurbished as apartments and bedrooms for visitors. Each one has a small observation point from which gardens extend in scale with the place. Thus, in addition to enjoying the main garden, visitors can see the park from these viewpoints, consisting of little corners filled with shrubs that give them independence and privacy (the house of the vine, the cottage of the lagoon, etcetera).
The owners then made an excellent decision: due to the success of the first plantings made in the garden, they decided to continue reforesting outside its limits, so that large tracts of native flora replaced the pine forests surrounding the houses.
The owner’s supervision has been vital in the project. She has been interested and has made proposals to ensure that each new place is in harmony with the whole. In this way, the spaces added with the passage of time came to comprise a garden of great wealth that is in permanent transformation. Moreover, she has become convinced that the propagation of the native forest is fundamental to recovering the native landscape.
Name of project: Amadori Garden
Garden surface: 3.700 m2
Construction year: 2008
Location: Santiago, Chile
Architect of house: 57 Studio
This garden covers some 3000 m2 within an urban location. Two aspects conditioned the positioning of the house: the presence of an aged peumo, and the owner’s need for an ample access space to park cars. This meant moving the building from its original position, which helped make it possible to work on a good-sized interior garden.
The design assigned a role to the old trees standing in the neighboring lots (common beeches, peumo and an araucaria). In order to integrate them into the new surroundings, views were opened that incorporated them in the garden.
The layout of the garden is directly related to the house: each of the interior spaces has a relationship with the exterior. The clean lines of the ornament-free architecture make it easy to link the design of the vegetation volumes with the architectural values.
The access yard, which is cobbled, hard and fairly wide, was organized with box hedges stretching in octagonal directions and parallel to the lines of the house. Then there is the shrubbery that organizes the spaces, encircling the white walls or the beams and linking with the architecture whether by continuity or by contrast.
The garden is made up of a consequence of patios. Some are more open, others more closed and others split-level. Depending on the different uses given to them, they acquire a more intimate or more public character. In broad terms, they include the place of the swimming pool; the large meadow with its mirror-like pond; the garden of the bedrooms; and the garden of the living room. Here there are no paths: the route consists of moving freely from one space to another within the garden, where each space has its own identity without compromising the unity of the whole.
The dining room garden is projected towards the mirror-like pool that is strengthened by the fine texture of its plants (mainly veronicas and heather). The stone garden has small reflecting pools to generate a relationship with the swimming pool located behind the shrubbery.
Name of project: Cox Park
Garden surface: 30 ha
Construction year: 1992
Location: Chicureo, Región Metropolitana, Chile
A 30 hectare park spread out around a hill where the native vegetation is adapted to the lack of irrigation It was designed for a large family and set aside nine, private one hectare plots –each with its own house– that overlook a range of different forms visually connected by paths and trails to the common areas.
The access road to the residential buildings runs up the slopes of the hill, providing views of the peaks of Santiago and the Andes beyond. This is where the nine private gardens are located.
Larger trees are planted to the north of the plot to create a forest, which serves the dual function of providing a border and offering a rewarding woodland trail. The meadow areas between these two circulation routes –the house and forest areas– are spaces of transition from the private to the public.
I converted land that had been a field of wonders into a forest garden that one traverses along different paths lined with large trees, coming across copses of oaks, elms, conifers, cedars, sequoias, holly oak and bushes.
Name of project: Bahía Azul Garden
Garden surface: 4.000 m2
Construction year: 1996
Location: Bahía Azul, Los Vilos, Chile
Architect of house: Juan Grimm
About twenty-five years ago, I started looking for land on the north coast of central Chile with the idea of building a house for the summer and weekends. The landscape has fascinated me since I was a child because of its unique and special characteristics. The site I found, facing a huge blue ocean, surpassed any expectation: spectacular views, the richness of the topography marked by hills and cliffs of sculptural rocks.
For the design of the house, I decided that its volume would act like one rock more amidst the surroundings. I planned the architecture with a simple structure of two black cubes and a wall covered with the local stones. I opened large windows to the sea and the northern hills. The main access follows the rhythm the garden generates until you arrive at a first patio. Then, along a gently curved path, you discover the first view of the house, next to a hillside of native vegetation that embraces the rocks typical of the place. Further on, you reach the steps that access the house, which are submerged in the bushes, as happens in some natural spaces of this zone where the volumes are surrounded by vegetation.
During the first ten years, I dedicated myself to building the paths, the greenhouse and planting the different species of vegetation. When deciding which plant varieties to use, I imagined how they would cover the arid, rocky slopes of the site in the future; how they would combine with the existing sparse vegetation; how they would hide unwanted views; and how they would fit into that wonderful coastal landscape and the house at the top of the site, right on the edge of the cliff.
This garden was conceived to merge with the existing landscape through lanes, paths or steps, using curves or breaks to allow the continuity of vegetation from architecture to infinity. The access garden, the native hill garden, the cactus garden, the swimming pool garden, the greenhouse garden and the garden of the sea rocks, that I am in the process of building, particularly stand out. Each of these has its own distinctive features.
I distributed the shrub species to the east, so that the house protected them from the saline wind. In the same direction, along the boundaries of the site, I planted Monterey cypresses and Myuporum laetum, forming a dense wall of vegetation to separate me from the neighbor and gain greater privacy. To the west, facing the sea, I planted vegetation in which succulents, bromeliads and cacti predominate and in order to emphasize the hillside, I reinforced the presence of already existing species: more puyas, more cacti, more Chilean bell flowers and rock purslane, which trail along the slopes of the cliff to merge with other species of succulents. Different shades of greyish-green predominate.
The Bahía Azul Garden has been my laboratory. I have been able to experiment with new plants and learn from their behavior, for example, how much sun exposure they need or how much watering is required to achieve optimum development. I now clearly understand under what conditions chaguales grow best, and I know exactly at what time of day the scent of the heliotrope and the featherheads is strongest. I have also observed how birds help in the reproduction of the flora.
Nowadays the garden contains only shrubs, since the Monterey cypresses and the mousehole trees that I planted along the border with my neighbor were destroyed by a storm years ago. Thus, one of the many learnings left behind by the successive events of nature became clear: trees do not belong in that landscape.
Name of Project: Urubamba Garden
Garden surface: 12 ha
Construction year: 2009
Location: Sacred Valley, Urubamba, Cuzco, Peru
Architect of hotel: Bernardo Fort
From the outset, this assignment seemed fascinating, as the chance of relating to the architecture of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a civilization that I admire so much, plus the possibility of having species that flourish in that latitude of the Andes Cordillera as part of the design, is not something that occurs every day.
The task was to implement a landscaping Project in a 14-hectare park, the grounds surrounding a luxury hotel situated on the river Vilcanota, near the village of Urubamba, 70 km from Machu Picchu. I was asked to preserve a 3-hectare forest of native species, a strip of old eucalyptus trees at the edge of the river. For everything else, I was granted complete freedom.
The objective of this project was to maximize the potential of the site’s own landscape, which has a mountainous and fertile character. I was inspired by the geometry of the Incas, from the great efficiency of their layered cropping systems and from the immense hydraulic wisdom behind their irrigation systems.
For the design, I considered elements of water and stone, the incorporation of native flora and the layout of pedestrian paths.
In the access to the hotel, we formed a sunken garden, cleft by three canals that represent the slopes of the Andean mountain ravines. The mountain range is located in front of the façade, so that the waters descending from it symbolically cross the valley and feed the pond situated at the entrance to the hotel. With the garden surrounding it, a circuit is established that the passengers walk along when they enter the hotel.
Because not all the hotel rooms had a river view, I suggested creating a lagoon in the heart of the garden that would act as a center of attraction both for the moving water and for the surrounding vegetation. And so, we created a new landscape in that place.
To give identity to the garden I took advantage of the site’s topography and used elements such as stone platforms, gutters, waterfalls, ponds, paths, shapes with angles, and breaks. All these components respond to the sculptural look of the Andean range and evoke it in the design.
With respect to the vegetation, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there were no nurseries in the area to supply the plants, which forced me to study the local flora and go out with botanical specialists to collect seeds and cuttings. With these, we formed a nursery for the native species that belong to that majestic landscape. We were very successful in achieving the first objective, which was to supply the project. With the passage of the years, now that the garden is established, permits are in process to declare it a botanical garden in view of the collection’s unquestionable patrimonial value, the excellent development of the plants, and the site’s compatibility with the necessary requirements.