Title: Hortus Hermitage
Photography: Ben Nienhuis and Ishka
Research commissioned by the Haren Botanic Gardens and TAAK, with financial support from the Mondriaan Fund, Kunstraad Groningen, the University of Groningen (RUG), the Haren council and de Vereniging Vrienden van de Hortus 'Henricus Munting'
HAREN – The Botanic Gardens in Haren provide a safe haven not only for plants, but also for the people that work there. Volunteers who are unable to participate in the regular work circuit or who have trouble dealing with authority, have the opportunity of escaping a social straightjacket and flourishing in freedom. That 'escape' quality is what Sjaak Langenberg & Rosé de Beer want to further emphasise by the building of the Hortus Hermitage. The inclusion of people as an element in garden design was a fashion in eighteenth century England with hermits being installed to live on site in gardens. The Hortus Hermitage will be a refuge for lodgers, visitors and the volunteers. It offers guests the possibility to become part of the work community in exchange for labour – an exclusive residence with a social character. In collaboration with Refunc, Langenberg & De Beer have developed a design centring around materials and furniture that once had a function in the old Botanic Gardens. A fodder silo, such as can be seen in the local Groningen landscape, forms the basis. The silo has been turned on its side and buried in a dyke in the 'Groninger garden', and the living room and bedroom for visitors are situated in the part of the silo that has been inserted into the dyke. The inner wall has been covered with 24m2 of old plant tags from the Botanic gardens, and disused filing cabinets form a multifunctional 'living machine'. On both sides of the dyke the silo has been opened up and there are benches with shady havens for both visitors and volunteers. This design allows for an interesting interaction between the inside and the outside, between the Botanic gardens and the world beyond, between the lodger and the visitors.
The Hortus Hermitage will open in 2017 as part of the event Verloren en Hervonden (Lost and Found Again). Visitors can stay overnight in the Hermitage, and a number of writers, philosophers and unorthodox organisational experts will be invited to stay in exchange for their reflections on the relationship between garden and society. The title of the event has, at any rate, a significant relationship with the Hortus Hermitage – the idea of a person rediscovering themselves in the garden; the materials which are being re-used; and the Botanic Gardens too are reinventing themselves.
Links© Sjaak Langenberg & Rosé de Beer