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MoMA Explores Relationship Between Built Environment and Surrounding Landscape
Bernard Tschumi (French and Swiss, born Switzerland, 1944) Parc de la Villette, Paris, France Follies and Galleries Isometrics (1986) Gouache and color ink on gelatin silver photograph. 34 x 50" (86.3 x 127 cm) The Museum of Modern Art. Purchase, 1996 © 2009 Bernard Tschumi.
NEW YORK, NY.- The exhibition In Situ: Architecture and Landscape draws from the rich collection of The Museum of Modern Art to examine the diverse attitudes towards landscape over the last 100 years. Featuring approximately 60 drawings, models, and videos, projects include single houses that frame the landscape, designs for buildings based on the surrounding landscape, urban gardens that compose “nature” within the city, and parks that transform former industrial areas into new attractions. The exhibition closes with three cemeteries whose designs demonstrate that our relationship to landscape often transcends our quotidian needs. The exhibition is on view in The Philip Johnson Architecture and Design Galleries, third floor, from April 8 to September 14, 2009. It is organized by Andres Lepik, Curator, and Margot Weller, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.

In recent decades landscape has taken on an expanded definition in architecture. In the first half of the twentieth century, the architectural avant-garde celebrated autonomy from nature, and architects devised utopian schemes for creating urban realms ex novo. More recently, however, the challenges of a threatened environment and rapidly expanding cities have fostered a revised understanding of landscape. Harmony between the spatial, social, and environmental aspects of human life has become a priority in political thought, and this has had profound reverberations in both architecture and landscape design. Landscape—no longer understood merely as nature untouched—now encompasses complex interventions by architects and landscape architects in urban and rural surroundings.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater, Edgar J Kaufmann House (1934-1937) in which architecture becomes part of a dramatic setting in the nature, and Mies van der Rohe’s Wolf House (1925-27), built atop a prominent ridge of Gubin overlooking the Neisse River Valley, are among the earliest examples in the exhibition. Other examples that demonstrate a similar profiting relationship between architecture and landscape are Edward Larrabee Barnes’ Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (1958-61), Emilio Ambasz’s Casa de Retiro Espiritual in Spain (1976-1979), and Diller + Scofidio’s Slow House project (1988-90). Hans Hollein’s Vulcania (1994-2001), Tadao Ando’s Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum in Osaka (1989-1994) or Toyo Ito’s Relaxation Park in Torrevieja, Spain (2001-2006) all seem to merge with their surroundings. Roberto Burle Marx’s lively landscape design for Saenz Pena Square (1948) and Duque de Caxias Square (1948) in Rio des Janeiro bring nature back into the densely populated city. These examples show his painterly style, mixing biomorphic abstraction with tropical planting into a new geometric language for urban gardens.

A contemporary approach for urban parks is the Southeast Coastal Park in Barcelona (2000-2004) by Foreign Office Architects. Inspired by seaside dunes, the parks gentle peaks swell to accommodate two open air-auditoriums. One of the famous competitions for the transformation of former industrial areas into “an urban parc for the twenty-first century” with new attractions is the Parc de la Vilette of 1982-83. Bernard Tschumi and Zaha Hadid had both developed highly complex concepts to create a new space for recreation, sports, and culture in which nature is included as one layer among many others. Cemeteries have also been a traditional exercise to combine architecture and landscape. This is represented in examples from Erik Gunnar Asplund’s Woodland Crematorium (1935-1940), Aldo Rossi’s San Cataldo Cemetery (1971-1984), and Enric Miralles and Carme Pinos’s Igualada Cemetery (1985-1996).





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