Seven Sisters, by West 8
The main difference between the iconography-model of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown and the current prevailing model of iconography is about what is represented. Where Venturi Scott Brown would represent the program, contemporary representation is just as much about the context of the building.
One of the best examples of the latter approach is the work of West 8, Adriaan Geuze. In England one cannot design a park that looks different from the traditional romantic English garden. To make something different that would still be English, Adriaan Geuze decided to use the image of the Seven Sisters Chalk Coast in Southern England as the iconography for the design of the Jubilee Garden in London, just behind the ‘London Eye’ ferry wheel.
The image has two components: sloping hills of grass, and a sharp white edge. Because real chalk in the city would be dirty within a week, the design is materialized in polyester with a chalk-relief. More than 500 hundred different pieces will be produced in a specialized factory. In the Anglo-Saxon context where everybody is afraid to get sued steep paths are too risky. The safest option is to have no park at all. The paths in the design have a maximum inclination of 4%. West 8 has achieved steeper hills by lifting the paths off the ground in the middle of the park.
The grass is different chapter. The British have spent centuries perfecting grass, and have developed all kinds of different words for it. All British sports are about grass: Tennis (Wimbledon), Football (Wembley), Golf, Cricket, Rugby, and etcetera. So West 8 has proposed to spend 30% of their budget to make ‘the best grass ever made.’ A grass greener than you have ever seen before.
Another chapter are the proposed flowerbeds. Nowhere in the world on can find flowers as bright as in the Netherlands. Everywhere flowers have a more mixed color, Adriaan Geuze says. With only one exception: the bright red flowers in front of Buckingham Palace. To find out how this was possible, Adriaan Geuze has met with the gardener of the palace. In their third meeting the gardener told him that he once noticed that red flowers colored well with the uniforms of the guards. So since then, he kept planting red flowers. The Jubilee Garden is supposed have the same bright colored flowers.
And that light posts on the grass? They are big ‘golf clubs.’
The office has worked on the design since 1995 and hopes it is ever going to be realized.
Related: Maple Leaf, by West 8