Client: National Gallery of Canada | Location: Ottawa, Canada | Budget: $50,000 | Completed: 2017

National Gallery of Canada

The Jardin Fred & Elizabeth Fountain Garden Court was redesigned by Enns Gauthier Landscape Architects with Cornelia Oberlander in 2018. The design consists of a major landscape intervention in the middle of the existing garden court, located adjacent to the Canadian and Indegienous Galleries, which underwent a major renovation to mark the 30th anniversary of the Gallery, designed by award winning architect Moshe Safdie.

The design seeks to bring the iconic Canadian Shield Landscape into the gallery and with that, a greater sense of Canada’s vast landscape.

Oberlander and Safdie’s origial design “…was sharply geometric, with plants aligned in diagonal rows. “It was very crisp, perfectly suited to the times.”

But the new design had to be about something different.

“It’s meant to be a calm, reflective space,” says Gauthier, and the journey to design the Garden Court as an interlude in the process of exploring the country’s most revered artistic expressions, quickly led them to a design response that highlited the site itself, referncing the Ottawa River valley and Nepean Point – the spectacular promontory upon which the gallery is sited and a fitting reference for Canadian artists, many of whom were inspired by these same landscapes.

As Gauthier points out, institutions increasingly aim to respect their local contexts. “There’s been a pretty dramatic shift over the past two decades around trying to root your design to the site in a way that’s authentic, and reasonable, and real,” he says. “… the need for institutions to look like they’re rooted in place.”

Bryce led the design team through a research phase in order to develop a plant and materials palette that woud thrive in the climate controlled gallery. “We went through a hundred species trying to find plants that would mimic or look aesthetically like the Nepean Point landscape”, says Gauthier.

The Garden Court rests on a suspended slab, below which is used for storage of some of the country’s most iconic art piecess and artefacts. The space was carefully studied and a range of building technolgoies, such as the use of voiding and geotextiles were studied, while careful phasing plans were developped in order to allow the construction to proceed without impeding the day-to-day functions of the gallery.

The Garden Court opened to the public on April 25th, 2018.

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