To spin a yard

Atelier Altern: Landscape architecture design agency Atelier Altern has been present in the French city of Amiens where the first edition of « Imaginez maintenant » was taking place. « Imaginez Maintenant » is a national event in support of youth creation, including performances, fashion, architecture and poetry, as well as an experimentation field for young landscapers to share, over the summer, a contextual and sensitive vision on emblematic French heritage sites. In order to represent the profession of landscape architect among the national sphere of creation, the city of Amiens through the center of art programmes of Amiens (Maison de la Culture d’Amiens) has given the possibility to transform emblematic French heritages sites of the town : the islands of the Hortillonnages, a curious site of floating gardens.

In the natural and agricultural surroundings of Amiens city, especially in the site of the Hortillonnages, the atmosphere created by the two landscapers makes the visitor wonder. During a journey by small boat, people can visit the floating gardens, looking like Xochimilco gardens in Mexico. In one part of this site, near from an area called the Salad Harbour, Aurélien Zoia and Sylvain Morin have decided to work on the historical sens of the place, between agriculture, archeology and toponymy. « We wanted to take up two small and abandoned islands of the Salad Harbour, and to make them a medium of development and communication for old and forgotten varieties of salad » tell the two landscape architects. On the bank is established a sentence « On vous raconte des salades » (translation : a French expression for « we told you salads’ story » but with a double meaning which is « we spin a yard »). In fact, the proposal is the construction of a contemporary structure, with canted framings, and covered by a protective net for the salad crops.

« Not far from here, we have contemplated producing few thousands of different salads and , between the first and the fourth of July, distributing them for free, because this varieties are forbidden to be sold by the farmers in France ». It’s a serious problematic broached by the landscapers, in order to think more about old varieties rejection, genetic erosion and agricultural and industrial monopoly of seeds… The authors of the project communicated about the opening of the festival with a death announcement of a lettuce, dealing to the public some of them to eat during the festival period. A way to inform about loss of interest of the agricultural industry and policy in direction of old vegetable varieties.

Project: “To spin a yard”, or a story of forgotten varieties of salad
Landscape architecture: Atelier Altern, Sylvain Morin & Aurélien Zoia
Client: center of art programmes of Amiens (Maison de la Culture d’Amiens)
Location: Amiens, France
Festival: “Imaginez Maintenant”
Design year: 2009-2010
Year of construction: 2010
Area: 300 m2
Budget: 10 000 euros HT
Image credits: Atelier Altern & Nathalie Couineau

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