At the Internationale Gartenausstellung (IGA) 2017 in Berlin, training architect and landscaper Alex Hanazaki was invited to design a permanent garden that would bring a dose of Brazil to East Berlin.
São Paulo-based Hanazaki – who is Brazilian with Japanese ancestry – chose to communicate the complexity urban life in Brazil through the design. ‘I intentionally diverged from Brazilian stereotypes, such as carnival, football or banana trees and tried to make people have a deeper knowledge of what we have in Brazil. A multicultural, cosmopolitan country, but pairing it with our greatest natural richness, our flora,’ he says.
To wit, Hanazaki drew from a diverse palette of influences, as well as the history of landscape design in his homeland: ‘Brazil is a country that started to spread its landscape design aesthetics thanks to Roberto Burle Marx. It absorbs different influences because of the great mixture of cultures coming from German, Dutch, Japanese, Italian and many other backgrounds,’ he says.
Hanazaki drew cultural inspiration from Brazil, where he is from and based, and his Japanese ancestry
Yet he didn’t have free reign completely: ‘The climate in Berlin was one of our biggest limitations to design a garden typically Brazilian. No tropical plant would survive the climate of the city.’ Instead he chose resilient plants found in abundance across the country, such as cherry trees, grasses and bamboos, although not typicallly symbolic of Brazil.
Other materials such as basalt paving stones with a rusty finish (very common in Brazil), and Corten steel for the walls and bridges complement the deep greens of the fauna. The structured design is a cosmopolitan response to nature and this linear and minimal layout follows in the purity of Hanazaki’s body of work.
‘These elements play a role as powerful, architecturally speaking, as the plants selected for this project,’ he says of the surfaces, levels and bold geometry of the design. ‘Our work is architectural, minimalist and influenced by modernism, inspired by names like Walter Gropius, Mies Van der Rohe and Paulo Mendes da Rocha.’
Hanazaki’s Berlin garden has a strong aesthetic
While he has worked across the world from New York’s High Line to London’s Hyde Park, this garden is Hanazaki’s first project in Berlin, which he describes as a ‘vivid and evocative’ city and where he was concerned to create a public space with the aim to improve quality of life and integrate people with nature.
‘It is a scenic and contemplative garden, where the order of levels, elements and purity of the lines could bring a soothing, silent and peaceful mood to the visitor,’ he responds, when questioned on how a visitor would feel inside the garden. ‘I also wanted them to understand a little bit more of this big mixture in Brazil, inherited from the union of all people and many cultures that live here.’