Παρασκευή, 18 Νοεμβρίου 2011

Fernando Caruncho’s gardens are renowned for their harmonious geometrical patterns punctuated by sculptural planting.



Fernando Caruncho gardens: When designing landscapes, Fernando Caruncho likes to use the traditional plants of the region, which in this farm in Catalonia are olive, cypress and wheat
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When designing landscapes, Fernando Caruncho likes to use the traditional plants of the region, which in this farm in Catalonia are olive, cypress and wheat 
My obsession is to simplify,’ Fernando Caruncho said, as we walked around his studio in Madrid looking at large-scale models of his works in progress. Formal, minimalist, contemporary and powerful, the gardens and landscapes he has been making over the past 30 years have an instantly recognisable stamp. It is the stamp of one of the world’s master designers.
But Caruncho does not term himself a designer, still less a landscape architect. 'I am a gardener. That is the name that has been handed down from the past. Even “Capability” Brown called himself a gardener. If you change a name, you lose the connection with history, and forget you are thinking timeless thoughts and simply expressing them in a new way for a different historical period. To be original you have to know your origins.’
Caruncho’s gardens are as considered and precise as his words. 'I need absolute calm when I look at a garden,’ he said. 'When the idea comes, I sketch quickly, but before that comes days of observation and gently mulling things over in my head. Understanding a garden or a landscape is like getting to know a person. It is slow, you need time to draw out the personality.’
Caruncho, 52, was born and brought up in Madrid, and his main office, where most of his 10 assistants are based, is near the Prado museum in the centre of the city, but his personal studio, where he can work in quieter surroundings, is a short walk from his house on Madrid’s northern edge. Both house and studio, designed by Caruncho, are modern, bold and spare, with large windowless expanses of wall protecting the interiors from the relentless summer sun and the cold winter winds off the distant, often snow-capped, mountains. Inside, a series of open courtyards become what he calls 'boxes of light’ framed by the dark shadows.

Light is a principal element for Caruncho, from its effects on leaf colour and texture to its play across walls and water. His starting point, even when designing a small urban garden, he says, is the sky, and how vertical features might lift you up to it as if on 'a magic carpet ride’. The ochre tints of the iron oxide wash on the walls of his house themselves create a handsome patina, warmly contrasting with the shadowy evergreen planting all around, and as we walked through the copper-clad front door, an iron grille gave a glimpse of the main courtyard’s centrepiece: a large, reflective expanse of water in the form of a natural swimming-pool.

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