The “Magic Islands of the Gardeners” was the slogan for the special highlight of the Regional Garden Show Überlingen 2020. The 1250-year-old Überlingen has always had a close connection with water: the city’s wealth and prosperity flourished through trade and the transport of goods on the lake. This horticultural show is the first in the long series of state horticultural shows in Baden-Württemberg since 1980 to be held in the immediate vicinity of the lake on a large international waterbody.
Traditionally, they are exhibitions of the horticultural trade. For Überlingen the Verband Garten-, Landschafts- und Sportplatzbau Baden-Württemberg e.V. intended a special contribution for this special place.
Herbert Dreiseitl, known for his artistic work and landscape architecture, which is deeply rooted in the water theme, proposed the project “Swimming Gardens”. “To create new possibilities, the impossible must be attempted again and again”. This quote from Hermann Hesse, who lived at Untersee on Lake Constance, was his source of motivation to realize this innovation with all its challenges.
The planning was carried out with knowledge and great respect for the lake and its sometimes unpredictable weather, because sudden storms and short powerful waves with destructive force should not be underestimated. There are also strong seasonal fluctuations in water levels and currents, as the lake is fed by the alpine waters. Anyone who has experienced the recent storms in 2019 will understand how the planners, together with local experts, have worked hard to find the best solutions for connecting and anchoring the jetty and the islands.
The overall construction consists of a galvanized steel structure with a variety of different PE plastic floating elements. The bridge system is non-positively connected to the metal scaffolding by means of joints in order to be able to react dynamically to the changing water levels. The entire platform is covered with Siberian larch and nourishes the longing to enter the facility. The garden islands are partly docked to the jetty or fixed in front of the jetty at some distance by means of anchor stones. All islands are enclosed with a sheet steel collar, because at Lake Constance as a drinking water reservoir it must be ensured that no substrate is washed into the lake.
From the shore path running parallel to the lake, one steps onto the footbridge, which protrudes into the lake and flows harmoniously into a semicircular platform. The Floating Gardens are arranged in a fan shape around this footbridge, gradually drawing visitors from the shore outwards onto the water, where every wave sets the footbridge swinging and this movement is transferred to the people as a close-up experience of nature. The vastness of the lake can be experienced in generous dynamics. Each of the floating garden islands is carefully curated, planted and designed with different themes such as lifestyle, resilience and sustainability.
Comfortable, lounge-like seating invites you to relax, look up at the lake and the clouds and dream. Or to be inspired by the different designs of the garden islands: regional landscaping companies show their art, Bad Schandau as twin town makes itself known, the LGS Neuenburg advertises guests for 2023 and two zeppelins have landed on the water.
These garden designers are breaking new ground in the landscape sector. “The cooperation with the gardening companies was extremely fruitful and enriching”, says Dreiseitl. “During the planning phase, the countless sketch meetings and discussions with the landscape designers helped me to mature and refine my ideas.”
The magic of the light, the mood of the clouds and the reflections on the lake inspired Herbert Dreiseitl, an enthusiastic rower who has known Lake Constance for decades, to let experience the lake and water as close up. With his design, he hopes to provide all visitors to the State Garden Show with moments of pause and tranquility.
The public exhibition takes place from April to October. While some of the gardens on land will be preserved, the floating gardens will be dismantled and completely removed after the exhibition, so that no installations will remain either on the shore or on the lake floor. After the garden show the Floating Gardens, only temporarily permitted, hope to find a new home.
The themes of living and experiencing the lake as well as water protection and sustainability are of great importance in the concept of this contribution. The temporary measure has an informative and educational public value and is explicitly of public interest. These magical gardens will be the highlight of the State Garden Show, whether in 2020 or 2021.
Name of the project: Floating Gardens, (german: Schwimmende Gärten)
Role of the entrant in the project: DREISEITLconsulting GmbH, Artist & Landscape Architect
Other designers involved in the design of landscape:
• Garden Designers: Paul Saum, Van Den Elzen Garden Design, Gartengestaltung Gropper, GRIMM garten gestalten GmbH
• Engineer: Technus KG (GmbH & Co.)
Project location: Landesgartenschau Überlingen 2020, 88662 Überlingen, Germany
Design year: 2018 – 2019
Year Built: 2020; Due to coronavirus pandemic, the Landesgartenschau Überlingen might be postponed to 2021