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Paper Garden by Anouk Vogel

For just one month, a 24m2 garden made of paper flowers courtesy of Anouk Vogel was part of the Gardening World Cup in Japan. Design.nl caught up with the landscape architect to discuss her smallest-scale project to date.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 14-12-2011

Invited by the organization of the Gardening World Cup, Vogel's brief was to design a garden measuring just 24m2. "We were strongly encouraged to use living plants to live up to the visitor's expectations," says the designer.

But Vogel had a different idea, wanting to create a garden made from origami flowers. "The organization asked me to change my plans, as they would award points for the use of real flowers and plants." Instead, Vogel stuck to her original plan, forgoing any medals, yet creating a beautifully poetic garden.

"I wanted to respond to the fact that the garden was so small, that it was for such a short period, and that it was in Japan. Its limited size also meant that it could be a very precious garden, by for example doing something very labour intensive." Instead of investing in plants and materials, the budget was spent on Japanese workers. As the garden was originally intended to be on show for just ten days, it meant a fragile and ephemeral material could be used: paper.

"Because paper is a material that is very present in the Japanese culture, and there is a long tradition of using it as a construction material," says Vogel. However, the weather did form an obstacle for the team. A non-water-resistant paper was used which would allow the flowers to wilt and loose their shape over time. "But the day before the opening it rained the whole day and the flowers were already starting to unfold with the moisture in the air. Surprisingly and luckily, the next day the flowers folded back in their original shape as the sun dried them."

The garden has a number of underlying messages. Not only does it show how something impressive and beautiful can be created on a tight budget but also how patience can pay off. "The process of building the garden played a very important role in this design. The idea behind it is based on an ancient Japanese legend that grants a wish, such as a long life or recovery from illness, to anyone folding a thousand origami cranes. We folded 600 origami lilies, and by doing so, made a wish for world peace. "

Collaborating with local people, was a memorable part of the project for the designer. She explains: "The contractor had involved an institute where people recovering from depression or physical injuries gradually get a chance to re-integrate in society by taking part in projects. I have never experienced such dedication, patience and precision before. It took 15 people two weeks of folding to create the garden."

Thankfully, the beauty and message of Vogel's garden were recognized by the judges and the designer was awarded the Silver Medal and a Special Judges Award.

Photography by Jeroen Musch

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