Garden of a Hotel, Todos Santos, La Paz, Baja California Sur, MX, 2019; 12,650 m²; Invited Competition; Landscape: Atelier Amont
How shall we go about thinking of a courtyard garden today, especially within an arguably already beautiful landscape? We could simply let nature take-over, and then selectively trim or not. However, I believe in that case we would be missing the point. With the construction of walls for living all around, a room, open to the sky, comes into being. This presents us the opportunity of a microcosm, a man-made construct that nonetheless potentially contains all we know from the earth outside the walls. Inside however it is safe and there is the possibility for luxury and abundance.
I would propose then building hills in various sizes and heights, so that the garden could be more present and dynamic in its perspectival experience, and so various “rooms” would be created within the larger garden. We could thereby screen the private sleeping-rooms from public areas, and create spaces of intimacy for a few friends, or more generous clearings for communal festivities.
Carefully planned, yet small amounts of water could be present in the form of fountains and water channels flowing into lower, still pools near the event spaces. At bench height, they would form a relaxing place to sit – light-weight tables could be placed along its edge for casual drinks and meetings. Being low to the ground, children could still play without too much danger of falling in. The humidity within the micro-climate would provide a psychological respite from the heat of the desert, as well as entice guests into exploring the paths into the rear part of the garden alongside the channels. The flow would naturally be down the slope, thereby the ocean would be in mind, if not seen.
Flora is proposed in rather dense clumps, to express a certain splendor within the hotel grounds. The density would however be alleviated at times, so that it could be seen, with emptiness around. In this emptiness, the shadows from the tall trees and cacti would fall upon the bare, curved ground.
Although not shown here in the scale model, I could imagine large stones and small boulders, gathered from the local area, making up certain parts of the hills. They could be arranged for informal seating and climbing.
Fire-pits are proposed to be arranged around the rear part of the garden to provide space for small parties or discussions. They would have a cast-in-place concrete bench surrounding the fire. The concrete bench would radiate back the latent heat in the evening to those sitting on it. A group of palms and also lower shrubs would rise behind each of the fire-pits, allowing for the light of the fire to play upon their surfaces and to act as a sign for those approaching in the evening.