The ASLA Professional Awards were announced yesterday, and garnering an honor in the Residential Design category is The Crack Garden, by CMG Landscape Architecture.
Inspired by the tenacious plants that pioneer the tiny cracks of urban landscapes, a backyard is transformed through hostile takeover of an existing concrete slab by imposing a series of "cracks". The rows of this garden contain a lushly planted mix of herbs, vegetables, flowers, and rogue weeds retained for their aesthetic value.
Looking out of place among projects whose budgets seem crass in an age of credit crunch and foreclosure, an impostor in a cabal of slick hyper-modernity and conspicuous designery, The Crack Garden is a refreshing sight.
Quoting the project statement at length:
“The Crack Garden is an exploration of the identity of site and the clarity of intervention. Pre-existing places have an inherent identity that is based on their history, materiality, and activities. The design is conceived as an intervention that functions as a lens, altering perception of a place rather than completely remaking it. The intervention can reveal the physical and material qualities of the place, and/or become a catalyst to incite new program activities. In the case of The Crack Garden, completely remaking the garden was highly unlikely because of the tiny budget. By fully embracing a strategy of design as intervention, the garden relies on its previous identity as much as it does on the changes that were imposed.
“The conceptual basis of The Crack Garden is to reveal the potential for beauty that underlies the concrete and asphalt that is the predominant ground plane material of the urban landscape. The interventions into the site of The Crack Garden were primarily actions of removal rather than the addition of new layers and material. By eliminating portions of the existing concrete and exposing the soil beneath, potential is released, and new opportunities for the garden arise.”
Perhaps inspired by the garden, a crack team of guerrilla gardeners will undertake tactical missions to etch similar tectonic fissures in the parking lots of failed suburban malls and abandoned inner neighborhoods of post-industrial cities. With pneumatic drills or with pick axes and some elbow grease, they'll wound the earth's (un)natural asphalt skin, so that forgotten ecologies may return and hopefully fester.
And if they can afford the grotesquely exorbitant registration fees, our gardeners will then submit their covert operations for next year's ASLA Professional Awards.