Hadpsen Parabola Competition
We participated in an open design competition in 2007 to complete a landscape design by Foreign Office Architects situated inside the parabolic, south facing, walled vegetable garden at Hadspen, a country estate in Somerset. Hadspen was owned at the time by the celebrated architectural patron and collector Nial Hobhouse (who still owns part of the estate, Shatwell Farm, which houses his archive Drawing Matter). FOA's scheme involved creating a series of 'Parametric' stepped ramps cut into the slope of the walled garden, which we considered to be somewhat utilitarian and harsh. It was unclear where the ramps were leading to, or why, and there was no sense of what might happen in the "garden". So, in the spirit of Renaissance gardeners, we decided that the highly orchestrated descent must have a purpose, and that this purpose should be experiential - magical and strange. We proposed to plant a vineyard, and also a Night Garden, somewhere to re-connect all of one's senses together. The paths would continue downhill, cutting into the ground at the lowest point of the parabola, creating a route beneath the garden wall there, via a grotto. The grotto-cave would comprise of a concrete roof structure, formed in the image of a snail's shell, a microcosm of the garden above. Emerging from the grotto, one would experience a remarkable transition from the enclosed world of extreme cultivation above, into an equally magical world of farm animals and wildlife.