Great Britain 'The Garden of Vulcan'

Tom Stuart-Smith

“This was the order of human things: first the forests, after that the huts, thence the villages, next the cities and finally the academies.” Giambattista Vico, Italian philosopher, 1668 – 1744)

Vico describes the development of society as if it were an organism evolving in the forest wilderness. The contribution by the English landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith invokes a time before designed gardens, before vegetation. In a sense, his Garden Cabinet reflects the process of vegetation and colonisation: “In this empty wasteland, we begin with opportunistic plants that arrive from seed. Trees begin to dominate and then the process of colonisation by animals begins with a network of paths threaded through the vegetation. After that the huts.” Thus, the design of the IGA Garden Cabinet begins in a wasteland, with the seeding of an exotic meadow. This
would be left to develop for one year. In the following spring a network of paths would be cut into the meadow and several staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) trees planted. Only later would a place for people be created in
the garden. Lyrically and with an invocation of the world of mythology, Tom Stuart-Smith describes the continued colonisation process, which his contribution incorporates: “The giants and the Roman god of fire create the clearings in the forest cover to feed the forges. And so the process of human colonisation begins. Vulcan, the first forgemaster, is perhaps also the first cuckold: he discovered his wife Venus and her lover Mars making love in his home. With construction and habitation thus comes deception.” In his Garden Cabinet, a concrete wall symbolises the house, with a long low bed, also of concrete, and a shallow iron bowl representing furniture. The ground
can be paved with fine gravel except for the area around the building fragments, which should have a stone floor as if part of a previous house.

Tom Stuart-Smith Ltd

Tom Stuart-Smith Ltd is an internationally renowned landscape design firm established in 1998. The scale and complexity of their portfolio ranges from large gardens and parks open to the public to smaller private gardens. Tom Stuart-Smith Ltd has a reputation for making gardens that combine naturalism and modernity. Tom Stuart-Smith has also designed a number of gardens for the Chelsea Flower Show. Eight of these have been awarded gold medals and three have won “Best in Show”. An exhibition on his work, the first for a living garden designer in the UK, was held at London’s Garden Museum in 2011.

Facts and figures


Tom Stuart-Smith Ltd.

Contracting authority Grün Berlin 2017 GmbH for the state of Berlin, Senate Department for Environment, Transport and Climate Protection
Financing The measures are being financed with federal and state funding as part of the joint task aimed at improving the regional economic structure and co-financed by the Senate Department for Environment, Transport and Climate Protection.
Opening date 13 April 2017 for the IGA Berlin 2017