Landscape Architecture: Enzo Enea (Enea Garden Design)
Location: Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland
Photos: © Martin Rütschi
On June 14, 2010, the Tree Museum situated on 75,000 square meters of land near Upper Lake Zurich, has officially opened its gates. Conceived as an oval-shaped, open-air museum which is divided into a series of ‘rooms’, each with their own atmosphere and character, the Tree Museum will exhibit individual trees from the collection of Enzo Enea, the Swiss landscape architect and a prominent tree collector. The Museum’s first mission is to emphasize the exceptional presence, beauty and rarity of the exhibited trees, while on a second, deeper level, Enzo Enea’s constellations will help shape visitors’ perception of primordial attributes of life such as time and space, and how these are so intrinsically embedded in the very quintessence of these ancient, venerable trees.
The idea of creating a tree museum was a natural extension to Enea’s work as a landscape architect as many years of intensely observing and studying trees combined with an increasing understanding of how to sense and handle them not only provided the foundation for his reputation in the field, but also instilled in him a boundless admiration and respect for these most extraordinary creations of nature. In order to share these experiences with a wider audience, Enea decided to indeed dedicate a “Museum” to his trees, thereby implying that they are equally worthy of the care and attention we usually reserve for objects in such an environment. His concept of constructing open-air ‘spaces’ – a characteristic of all Enea gardens – allows for trees to be singled out and to become ‘individuals’, as visitors are led to walk around these rooms and to observe them from different angles.
The ‘experience’ and sensation evoked by a visit to the Tree Museum will be one created by a multitude of different elements including the magnificence of the trees themselves, the micro-climate they create around them, the variety of textures, the effects of spacing and proportions and the landscape architecture in which they are embedded. However, one of the most remarkable and touching characteristics of most trees on view is their age. The awakening to a need for ‘slow life’, and respect and admiration for nature and the environment are key elements evoked by the Tree Museum. Its spirit, its genius loci, will help to ‘externalize’ whatever it is these ancient shapes reflect in our subconscious.
The Museum will feature approximately 50 trees representing more than 25 varieties, and showing several examples which are more than 100 years old. An aura of immortality and an awareness of ‘time’ – even more pressing in our world of hectic, no-time behavior – become omnipresent and the Museum a place of quiet contemplation and observation. Sophisticated techniques influenced by the ancient art of Bonzai shaping were applied to transplant and preserve the trees. Another 100 trees and plants are located in the Park which surrounds the Tree Museum, which will furthermore also serve as a landscape architecture and space laboratory.
In total, the Museum and Park zones contain more than 2000 exclusive wood species which Enea has collected over the past seventeen years. The collection is solely composed of varieties which belong to our climate zone.
A central feature on the grounds is the 2500 square meter headquarters building of Enea Garden Design in front of which sits a sprawling, lava-layered lake. The building was constructed by the American architecture firm Oppenheim Architecture & Design and houses an exhibition of selected garden furniture, a library, a museum shop as well as a group of works of art and design. The building was given the American Architecture Award 2009, by the Chicago Athenaeum. Oppenheim Architecture & Design has offices in New York, Miami and Los Angeles and will open an office in Basel in June 2010. Enzo Enea and Chad Oppenheim collaborate on an international level and are currently working on the planning of a city center of the Chinese port city Tianjin.
Enea Garden Design used to be located in Schmerikon, a neighboring town. The move to Rapperswil became possible because of a 99-year lease which the nearby Cistercian Cloister Wurmsbach, owner of the grounds, was willing to grant.