In October 2013 I was so fortunate to visit a series of Parisian parks, among others Parc de la Villette in the northeastern corner of the 19th arrondissement.
Here French landscape architect Alexandre Chemetoff has created Le Jardin des Bambous, one of ten thematic gardens established in the late 1980es. Le Jardin des Bambous is a secluded and well-hidden garden, which has played a quiet but equally important role in the emergence of a new ecologically oriented agenda within landscape architecture eloquently described by John Dixon Hunt in his wonderful book Gardens and the Picturesque (1994):
Landscape architecture needs to […] recover a sense of gardens as expressions of a culture’s position vis-à-vis nature […] This clearly explains the enthusiams for […] the one succesful moment in the otherwise silly Parc de la Villette in Paris, where Alexandre Chemetoff’s bamboo grove, despite its concrete and pseudo-high-tech setting, contributes to a new agenda of garden meanings for a society for whom ecology, including the resources and materials of the natural world, matters as never before.
Following Hunt the bamboo garden is a green grove. To some extent it also resembles the enclosed garden, Hortus conclusus, in it’s most simple form. But at the same time the garden is an opening to the workings of the world as they unfold in and upon the specific site. It is a clearing in the ‘pseudo-high-tech’ park setting of La Villette, where clearing is to be understood not only as a ‘letting in of light’, but also, and maybe even more so, as a certain way of gaining insight into the dialogue between culture and the invisible wonders of the natural world.
Le Jardin des Bambous, 2013, Digital Silver Gelatine Print, each photograph 100×100 cm, Ed. 1/3 + 2AP.