The Decorators, an interdisciplinary group of practitioners working with space in London, recently transformed the terrace overlooking the city at Alexandra Palace by installing a mobile Italian garden. As a "landscape of scattered objects" which geometrically piece together to resemble a formal garden, the designers describe the project as somewhere between "grotto and folly, garden and landscape, stage and amphitheater," all the while drawing from the historical character of the surrounding context. The scheme ultimately "breaks the monumental proportions of the main building to meet visitors with a more intimate scale on their first encounter" with the palace.
The designers intended for the theatricality of the terraced view to be accentuated by the enclosed viewing amphitheater, thereby contemplating the surrounding landscape and "bringing to stage the gardens and the city of London in the background." In the case of many formal gardens, the landscape is subdued and relatively two-dimensional. The floor plan of this garden has been extruded to create a series of three-dimensional movable structures of varying sizes. "These units work as both planters and seating areas, functioning as viewing pods to seat from two to ten people. Each unit can provide a particular sensorial experience, provided by the smell of the botanical species that it contains, the quality and texture of the materials and the sights."
According to the designers' specification, the pods can be arranged into two configurations:
- a scattered, spread configuration that provides diverse different viewing perspectives giving variety to the garden experience. This configuration serves the quotidian use of the terrace, providing visitors the chance to linger or seat and enjoy the refreshments served at the bar.
- an enclosed tight configuration for quieter times of the year and more intimate events. This configuration is displaced around a central area where concerts and screenings can be held, providing intimate cabins for watching the shows.
This intervention was installed in July 2014 and will be used every summer at Alexandra Palace.