Taking our inspiration from Winter wonderlands this week - we have gathered up some lovely imagery from around the globe and found some magical places to share with you.
We love the respite of Winter and the pared-back look of lands and gardens right now. It's a good time to take a breath, reflect and behold the beauty that Winter provides us with before the plans, both already implemented and new come in to fruition.
In our next post we will be doing our review of the year - 2014, and then we will be hitting the refresh button and getting you all ready for your new year of gorgeous gardens and landscapes. Projects in the works will be showcased, alongside the results of last years works. So for now... here are our Winter finds.
Ice formations found
Tucking up in January
By appointment of the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Foundation, Snøhetta has designed an observation and information pavilion at Hjerkinn in Dovre, Norway.
The spectacular site is located on the outskirts of Dovrefjell National Park at around 1250 meters above sea level, overlooking the Snøhetta mountain massif. The main purpose of the 75m2 building is to provide shelter for school groups and visitors as mountain guides lecture about the unique wildlife and history of the Dovre Mountain plateau.
Dovrefjell is home to wild reindeer herds, musk oxen, arctic foxes and a variety of endemic botanical species. A long history filled with travellers, hunting traditions, mining and military activities have left their mark on this land.
Natural, cultural and mythical landscapes formed the basis of the architectural concept. The building design is based on a contrast between a rigid outer shell and a soft organic-shaped inner core. A wooden core is placed within a rectangular frame of raw steel and glass. The core is shaped like rock or ice eroded by natural forces such as wind and running water. Its shape creates a protected and warm gathering place, while still preserving visitor’s access to spectacular views.
Considerable emphasis was put on the quality and durability of materials so that the building can withstand the harsh climate. The shelter’s simple form and use of natural building materials reference local building traditions. At the same time, new technologies were utilized to bring modern efficiency to the fabrication process.
The wood core was manufactured using a large scale robot-controlled milling machine based on digital 3D models. The end result of Tverrfjellhytta is a robust but refined building building, providing a protected gathering place for visitors in an enriched landscape.
Wild about... Reindeer
Reindeer are large deer with a body length between 1.2 and 2.2 m (4 - 7.25 ft), a tail length between 10 and 25 cms (4 - 10 inches) and they weigh between 120 and 300 kgs (260 - 660 lbs).
Their coat is thick - brown in colour during the summer and grey during the winter months. Their chest and underside are pale in colour and their rump and tail are coloured white. Both males and females have antlers, those of males are larger and more complex and they usually shed them after the rut, where as females keep theirs until spring.
Reindeer, or caribou, can outperform all other land animals in their energy efficiency. They're more usually seen on their mammoth annual migration to the Arctic during which the North American herds might travel for more than 5,000km - an extraordinary feat that takes them further than any other land mammal.
Reindeer have specialized hooves that adapt according to the season. During summer when the tundra is soft and wet, their footpads become spongy to provide them with extra traction and during the winter months their pads shrink and tighten, which exposes the rim of the hoof enabling them to cut into the ice and snow to prevent them from slipping. They make a clicking noise when they walk and this noise is made by tendons rubbing across a bone in their foot.
Their nose features nasal turbinate bones which increase the surface area within their nostrils. This enables cold air to be warmed by their body heat before it is inhaled into their lungs.
Reindeer are excellent swimmers and when migrating they will not hesitate to swim across a lake or river that is in their path. They can also reach speeds of 80 km/hr (50 mph) if required.
Reindeer are found in the arctic tundra and subarctic forests of northern North America, Greenland, and northern Europe to east Asia.
Reindeer mainly feed on grasses, herbs, sedges, mosses, fungi, twigs and lichens. During the winter months they use their hooves to dig down into the snow, an activity known as cratering, to expose a lichen they often feed on known as reindeer moss.
What's not to love?
Dukha = Reindeer people
In the Winter of 2003 a remarkable artist carried out a massive scale floral engineering installation to commemorate the closure of the Massachusetts Mental Health Hospital. Artist Anna Schuleit posed the question: how does one memoralise a building so rich with history of both hope and sadness, and do it in a way that reflects the past and a future? Schuleit believed that as a public memorial, the message should not be communicated in a generic way such as through a speech or a commemorative plaque, but rather as an experience for the public. Hence came about the idea for BLOOM.
Bloom was a reflection on the healing symbolism of flowers given to the sick when they are bed ridden and confined, and notably the then ironic absence of flowers given in psychiatric settings. With an enormous team of volunteers Schuleit set about installing what seemed to be impossible – 28,000 potted flowers were brought in to the premises and were set out, filling almost every square foot of the MMHC including corridors, stairwells, offices and even a swimming pool.
BLOOM brought beauty and wonder to what had always been an inherently taboo subject matter, evoking reactions from the public from delight to renewed sorrows.
Quote from a previous member of staff : “My therapist’s office was in the basement and the floor got covered in grass. Grass does not bloom but it cushions and it is in the right place. It is the foundation, it softens everything. Conceptually it is brilliant.”
Schuleit spoke of the project in a later interview : “I was hoping to create a work that would bring aspects of play into the seriousness of the institution, an element of the absurd. It would have been infinitely easier to work with just a few hundred flowers, or a few thousand even, but I wanted to reach my goal of twenty-eight thousand, because it had occurred to me at the beginning of the project that that was the minimum number that was missing here. If it had been a project merely for photography, we wouldn’t have needed so many. But it was really a project for the passing visitor, someone coming in, in real time, from the street and finding this sea of color inside the building, and throughout. A multitude of greetings on every floor. Really, simply, a work of the imagination. That’s all I hoped for. I was amazed by how many people wandered through the building on those four days.”
“The concept for BLOOM came to me as a site-specific installation to mark the transition of the life and history of the institution toward its closure, from its physical state to the remembered. I imagined the project on a 1:1 scale with the building, on all floors and hallways. Twenty-eight thousand flowers arrived on trucks in the span of a few days, all needing to be watered as they came in, all having to be placed in the building, unwrapped, arranged, watered again.”
Schuleit opted away from cut flowers because she wanted the art installation memorial to have life after the exhibition was over and the building was closed for good. All 28k of potted plants were distributed to shelters, halfway houses and psychiatric hospitals throughout New England. The BLOOM project possessed a strange duality, at its core it was intended to allow free access to a building that had existed as a locked and mysterious entity for nine decades, and it injected life through nature in to the institute to commemorate it.
The result was a haunting beauty to this work and a certain bravery in comment and approach by Schuleit. To us she seems like an unsung hero for her efforts back in 2003, so we celebrate her message here in pictures and enjoy that BLOOM’s ideas look contemporary today, twelve years on.
A pioneering contemporary artist, Tokyo-born Motoi Yamamoto carves monumental two dimensional sculptures of entire oceans, shattered planets, typhoons, mountain ranges, fractured staircases and vast plains of brain-like coils using just the one medium: SALT.
Although striking, his works are far from being merely aesthetic. Every one of the artist’s saltscapes is an experience in its own right, and one of a highly metaphysical nature for the artist as well as the viewer. Yamamoto’s works have been shown across the world from Russia to the United States and his most recent salt Labyrinth was shown until the end of 2014 at the Parisian gallery La Galerie Particuliere.
Yamamoto has said that: ''Drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory. Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by; however, what I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings. What I look for at the end of the act of drawing could be a feeling of touching a precious memory …''
For Yamamoto, his saltscapes act like a frequency that allows him to tune out of everything around him. Almost like a meditation that is actually part of a never-ending healing process following his sister’s death due to severe brain cancer at the tender age of 24, it seems that it is also the artist’s way of never letting go of this ‘memory’ he speaks of.
In Japanese culture salt is a highly significant symbol for the source of life as well as being a purifying element and is often used in ceremonies celebrating life and death. Reminding of the temporality of life, regardless of the number of times the artist repeats his saltscapes, the experience remains a transcendental one that is as magnificent as it is temporary.
Light the way
This Winter a solar powered, glow in the dark cycle path was installed in Nuenen, Netherlands.
The path was unveiled by its creators Social Design Lab, Studio Roosegaarde, marking one of their most notable research projects in collaboration with Smart Highways. They are aiming to explore where public space, art and technology can all meet. In this instance the illuminated cycle path was inspired by the works of Van Gogh - fusing classical art with modern tecnology.
The project explores techniques with solar powered, glow in the dark paint and LED edging pebbles, intended to create safe and more efficient road networks for the future.
Designer Daan Roosegaarde said of the new technology " This method of illumination is more gentle to the eye and surrounding nature. Such a lighting infrastructure creates a connection with cultural history".
This chap got a lot of attention over on our Facebook page at Christmas : If you think you are feeling chilly today… This Alaskan Wood Frog froze solid in September & will remain that way for seven months, withstanding temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit. Two-thirds of it's body water turns to ice. The frog's heart stops beating, their blood no longer flows and their glucose levels sky rocket. If you picked one up and bent it, it would not respond, but it would break. When spring arrives, it will simply thaw out and hop away! Click here to see the link and conversation there.
That's it from us for this week. We look forward to sharing our review of the year here with you shortly.
Winter wonder, wander SourceBook : Amplifying Glass, Kuriositas, Aabe, Archi search, Dezeen, Snohetta, Trondarberge Photo Shelter, Earth Rangers, Villrein, Thomas Kelly photos, Viral Nova, Tim Vollmer, Caras Design, Studio Roosegaard, Wildlife Trust, Lars Van de Goor