Garrett Eckbo Design Techniques

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Landscape Representation

138 Canneel but also in the garden seen from above. It is ironic perhaps that axonometry, with its anti-perspectival denaturalization and dissolving of context, would become a favored tool of representation for modernist landscape architects.

In conclusion, one could advance that axonometry not only conferred a sense of modernity on landscape representation, but also shaped a certain type of space. Axonometry allowed Canneel, Eckbo, and Rose to assemble various functional and plastic elements into ideal combinations. But Canneel remained singular in expressing a clear relationship between thought and product. To him, the axonometric garden synthesized the representation of modernist space and a design process; the technique also lent itself splendidly to his minimalist compositions. Inert and living materials held the same value, with architecture and landscape architecture sharing equal footing. The oblique angle favored asymmetry and the balance of unequal parts. Axonometry detached the spatial composition from its environmental matrix and at the same time suggested that garden and house formed but one element of a greater system. The house and garden became an organigramme (the French term for a synthetic structure diagram), suggesting a variety of uses with minimal means and echoing Reyner Banham's description of the Choisy view as an "immediately comprehensible diagram."27

As if they were designing in a sandbox, this cadre of modernist landscape architects employed a limited palette firmly bounded. The axonometric view upheld the idea of the modernist garden as abstract, synthetic, and asymmetrical, but it also implied a garden-object more tightly connected to architecture than to the greater context. As landscape architects relaxed their dependence on architectural theory and moved from garden design as a vehicle for experimentation towards systems of increased scale and complexity, they abandoned axonometry and its perfect, self-contained, world.

1 As Yves-Alain Bois and Massimo Scolari have pointed out, parallel projection has followed a long and mostly undocumented trajectory. For a discussion of the sources of, and attitudes towards, axonometry, see Bruno Reichlin, "L'Assonometria come progetto," Lotus International, 22, 1979: 82-93; Yve-Alain Bois, "Metamorphosis of Axonometry," Daidalos, i(i), September 1981: 41-58; Massimo Scolari, "Elements for a History of Axonometry," Architectural Design, 55(5-6), 1985: 73-78. To put it simply, axonometry is an abstract representation of a three-dimensional object onto a plane, without convergence and thus with an equal distribution of detail, and to scale. Axonometric projection comprises isometric, dimetric, and trimetric views. For a description of orthogonal projection and a brief history of axonometry, see Jean Aubert, Axonométrie: Théorie, art et pratique des perspectives parallèles, Paris: Éditions de la Villette, 1996. There is a certain amount of confusion regarding whether isometric axon-ometry distorts the plan, or not. Architects like Alberto Sartoris favored orthogonal isometric axonometry, or military axonometry, for its true plan. In other isometric representations, such as Herbert Bayer's 1923 drawing of Walter Gropius's office at the Weimar Bauhaus, the two axes of the plan are set at 120 .

2 Jean Aubert and Massimo Scolari both cited the Venetian military engineer Giovan Battista Delicci, who in 1538 described parallel projection for military constructions as being "true." See Aubert, Axonométrie, p. 84. See also Bois's account of the application of axonometry to military art and nineteenth-century technical drawing in "Metamorphosis of Axonometry,"

3 The making of scale models of fortified towns for military purposes can be traced back to a representation of the city of Rhodes in 1521. Louvois, Minister of War for Louis XIV, commissioned the first plan-relief from Vauban in i668 for the town of Dunkirk. See Isabelle Warmoes, Le Musée des plans-reliefs: Maquettes historiques et villes fortifiées. Paris: Éditions du Patrimoine, i997.

4 Choisy learned descriptive geometry from Jules Maillard de la Gournerie at the École Polytechnique. De la Gournerie's Traité de géométrie descriptive (1873-1885) included "perspectives axonométriques et cavalières." If the theory and practice of axonometry appeared in German and English publications from the mid-nineteenth century onward, it was not the case in France where the representational schism between engineers and architects endured. Architects used descriptive geometry for shaded and shadow-casting details, and conical perspective to represent buildings and space. Apparently, perspectival representation retained its stronghold on architectural design at the Beaux-Arts until the school's architectural department closed in 1968. See Aubert, Axonométrie, pp. 85-88.

5 Choisy, cited by Reyner Banham in Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, London: The Architectural Press, i960, p. 25.

6 The contrasting modernity of Roman, Byzantine, and Gothic architecture abstracted into worm's-eye views would appeal to Le Corbusier, who himself paired Greek architecture with automobiles. Le Corbusier resorted to the plan-biased representations of Choisy, such as Hagia Sophia, to stress how plans generated the entire structure of buildings. See Le Corbusier, Vers une architecture, Paris: Éditions Crès, 1923, pp. 36-38. Tunnard emulated Le Corbusier, whom he cited on numerous occasions when discussing the tyranny of styles and the importance of the plan in garden design. Even Tunnard's chapter entitled "Towards a New Technique" was a reference to Frederick Etchells' 1927 translation of Vers une architecture into Towards a New Architecture. See Christopher Tunnard, Gardens in the Modern Landscape, London: The Architectural Press, 1938, pp. 69-73.

7 See "1924 Theo Van Doesburg: Towards a Plastic Architecture," in Ulrich Conrads (ed.), Programs and Manifestoes on 20th-Century Architecture, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971, pp. 78-80. In fact, the interplay of dissimilar elements achieving a rhythmic composition held a strong appeal for several modern landscape designers. In 1930, Fletcher Steele praised Pierre-Émile Legrain's i924 garden in

La Celle-Saint-Cloud for its "occult unsymmetrical balance" and the dynamic relationship of its parts. See Fletcher Steele, "New Pioneering in Garden Design," Landscape Architecture, 20(3), April 1930: 163-164, 172, 177.

8 See the manifesto for the Association Internationale des Architectes Jardinistes Modernistes (AIAJM). Copies can be found in the papers of Belgian architect, Huib Hoste, at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and in the Tunnard papers, 1938-1956 file, at the Landscape Institute in London. Point 5 of the manifesto states that garden design should respond to context and functional demands with flexibility and asymmetry. Tunnard quoted almost verbatim two points of the manifesto's English text, crediting neither the association nor Canneel.

Tunnard, "The Garden in the Modern Landscape," Architectural Review, March 1938: 131.

9 See points 2 and 6, AIAJM manifesto (French text).

10 Referring to a renewal of representation, Reichlin described axonometry as far more "explicit and concrete than a diagram but sufficiently abstract" not to be confused with a model to be reproduced. Axonometry serves as a sort of "metadesign," situated at the intersection of functional and artistic needs and the structure that will satisfy them. See Reichlin, "L'Assonometria come progetto," p. 86.

12 See the "doctored" prints of the Grimar Garden in the Archives d'Architecture Moderne in Brussels.

13 The expression perspective cavalière apparently derives from the sixteenth-century military representation of the terrain observed from a cavalier, a term for an earthen promontory affording a sweeping view over the fortifications and their surroundings. Another interpretation of this projection in which parallel lines remain parallel refers to the view of a horseback rider (also a cavalier) onto an object below.

14 There are other photographs of the Heere-mans model that do not illustrate the relationship between house, garden, and slope as clearly as the view published in Christopher Tunnard's Gardens in the Modern Landscape, p. 80. See Hoste papers, Sint-Lukasarchief. On the connection among axonometry, architec-ural model, and photography, see Gérard Monnier, "Perspective axonométrique et rapport au réel," Techniques et Architecture, February-March 1985: 122.

15 Tunnard, Gardens in the Modern Landscape, p. 84.

16 Gyorgi Lukacs, Estetica, Torino: Einaudi, 1973, vol. 1, pp. 52-53, cited by Reichlin, "L'Assonometria come progetto," pp. 88, 92.

17 In the film L'Architecture d'aujourd'hui (Pierre Chenal, 1930-1931; music by Albert Jeanneret; 13 minutes), Le Corbusier dramatically inserted one of his towers in the transformed Parisian fabric of the Plan Voisin.

18 Gordon Cullen, Townscape. London: The Architectural Press, 1961.

19 Tunnard, Gardens in the Modern Landscape, pp. 72-76.

20 See Bruno Reichlin, "Reflections: Interrelations between Concept, Representation and Built Architecture," Daidalos, 1(1), September 1981: 67.

21 Historically, scenographic depictions of gardens (whether real or imaginary) were created for enlightened patrons to satisfy their Cartesian or pastoral yearnings. But the transcription from mind to paper to ground usually left few tracks. If documentation was essential for constructing elaborate hydraulic machinery and delicate fountains, the idea of the garden appeared to glide effortlessly from simple drawing to tapis vert and bosquet, from the mind of Le Nôtre to field hands.

22 See, for instance, James Rose, "Freedom in the Garden" and "Why Not Try Science?" respectively in Pencil Points, October 1938 and December 1939; and Garrett Eckbo, Daniel U. Kiley, and James C. Rose, "Landscape Design in the Urban Environment," "Landscape Design in the Rural Environment," and "Landscape Design in the Primeval Environment," in Architectural Record, May 1939, August 1939, and February 1940.

23 Garrett Eckbo, "Small Gardens in the City," Pencil Points, September 1937: 573-586.

24 See "Small Gardens in the City," and Garrett Eckbo's commentary on this text in "Pilgrim's Progress," in Marc Treib (ed.), Modern Landscape Architecture: A Critical Review, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993, p. 209.

25 For Rose's modular experiments and garden axonometrics, see his Creative Gardens, New York: Reinhold, 1958. For the axonometric and model views of Eckbo's Burden garden and other projects, see his Landscape for Living, New York: Duell, Sloan S Pearce, 1950, pp. 162-163, and Marc Treib and Dorothée Imbert, Garrett Eckbo: Modern Landscapes for Living, Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1997.

26 Reichlin, "L'Assonometria come progetto," p. 86.

27 According to Reyner Banham, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, pp. 24-25: "The formula is: isometric in its setting out, it presents plan, section and elevation in a single image, detailing is suppressed and one is left with an elegant and immediately comprehensible diagram."

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