Daniel Libeskind’s colourful sculptures protest climate change

The architect disrupts a 17th-century baroque garden in the Netherlands with a monumental series of sculptures

The Park in Netherland
Installation view of Daniel Libeskind’s ‘The Garden of Earthly Worries’ at Paleis Het Loo, Netherlands.
(Image credit: Courtesy of Paleis Het Loo)

Daniel Libeskind has designed an art installation for a baroque garden in the Netherlands. The Polish-American architect has splashed colour and eccentric shapes across the orderly grounds of the 17th-century palace Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoorn as a protest to climate change.

The ‘Garden of Earthly Worries’ consists of four monumental abstract sculptures that create an imbalance within the organised layout of the garden, designed in its time to represent man’s perfection of nature. ‘The gardens of Paleis Het Loo convey a symmetrical beauty that connects to the cosmic idea of time, space, and paradise,’ says Libeskind. Yet his sculptures, reaching three metres high and towering over the neatly trimmed shrubbery, are anything but symmetrical. Composed of spherical fragments of a globe, curved angles fly out carving up the air with colour.

Yet, don’t be seduced. Like a poisonous insect that attracts with fluorescent colouring, the pieces harbour a sinister secret within their concept: each represents a chemical compound that contributes to climate change. ‘The elements are placed in the garden as intruders; their imperfection is a counterpoint to the orderly landscape,’ says Libeskind, who intended them to appear as ‘toxic projects perverting and destroying nature’.

Greenary park in Netherland

Ozone and Laughing gas, 2019, by Daniel Libeskind

(Image credit: Courtesy of Paleis Het Loo)

The architect has completed many powerful works of architecture across the world, notably the Jewish Museum Berlin and the masterplan for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in New York. Echoing the strong lines and shapes of his buildings, this installation offers him an alternative outlet for his ideas.

Libeskind accompanies the installation with a bold and poetic statement that could be interpreted as a warning: ‘Humanity is at a crossroads in a world where resources and space are under attack. We are moving into a cultural shift from sustainability to viability. We can no longer distinguish if nature is culture, or culture is nature.’

It’s the first time that contemporary art has been displayed at the baroque gardens at Paleis Het Loo, but it feels like this historic baroque garden was in need of a little bit of disruption and some colourful chaos inside its cosmos. Now, it is a platform for thinking about the future.

In the middle of the park

(Image credit: Courtesy of Paleis Het Loo)

Things kept on park

(Image credit: Courtesy of Paleis Het Loo)

Different types of architecture can be seen on park

(Image credit: Courtesy of Paleis Het Loo)

Nobody on the park

(Image credit: Courtesy of Paleis Het Loo)


‘Garden of Earthly Worries’ is on view until mid-2021. For more information, see the Paleis Het Loo website and the Studio Libeskind website

Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.