Every two years the Austrian state of Upper Austria organizes a regional garden show (Landesgartenschau) in another municipality as a means of promoting sustainable development and tourism in the region and upgrading the municipality’s surrounding landscapes and open spaces. For the 2017 event, the old town of Kremsmünster with its ancient Benedictine monastery that dates back to 8th century AD was selected under the motto Dreiklang des Gartens (Triad of the Garden).
Following the competition in 2015, our office was hired to plan and develop all stages of the project based on the winning concept of Einsichten – Aussichten (of insights and views), behind which was the idea of translating the rich cultural heritage and knowledge contained inside the monastery into the design of the garden show.
The main principle was to design the areas near the baroque ensemble of buildings more intensely, whereas the surrounding landscape gradually becomes more naturalistic and extensively managed.
The objectives of this large project were twofold: on one side the attractive garden exhibition concept had to be developed that would attract, entertain and educate the visitors; on the other hand, permanent improvements in form of multiple projects had to be undertaken that the town of Kremsmünster would inherit from the 2017 garden show.
One of the bigger challenges of the project was how to address the existing historical garden heritage of the site and its unique genius loci, while bringing in new design ideas to fulfill contemporary needs of the monastery and the municipality. While working closely with specialists for historic preservation and priests who work and live in the monastery, we developed a contemporary but restrained and sophisticated design language that always pays attention to the ancient historical context.
Alongside garden heritage, many different topics had to be addressed, such as: improving safety and accessibility, participation of local community in the planning process, making productive landscapes an interesting part of the experience and developing a mobility concept during the show. The planning made sure that interests and voices of many stakeholders are incorporated in the exhibition while ensuring that the strong landscape concept is not compromised.
The garden show was organized around three sites with specific themes:
Carefully revitalized courtyards and gardens of the Stift are opening the sequence of experiences at the garden show. Along the treasures of the historical gardens and many sights of the monastery, numerous theme gardens have been laid out. These garden themes have all been inspired by the heritage of the monastery.
A special feature was the link between the “useful and beautiful”, that is to say, between agricultural production and forestry on the one hand and garden art on the other, both of which have a long tradition at the Kremsmünster Abbey. The interplay of beautiful gardens and productive landscapes was a main theme at this part of the show.
The main idea for the large grounds of Palace Kremsegg was to playfully engage with the theme of music, which is characteristic of the Palace hosting a significant exhibition of old instruments (Musikinstrumentenmuseum). The existing topography of the site was gently remodeled to serve as a clear frame for the series of theme gardens that interpret the theme of music in different ways. Two main axes, like stings on an instrument, extend through the garden and lead a visitor through garden-rooms.
As a permanent part of the garden show, a new naturalistic leisure area and a playground have been designed on the wide bank of the renaturalized stream of Krems.
The inputs from the workshops with local school-children had directly influenced the design of the playground’s colorful equipment. Through participative design process and close attention to detail the site that serves as a local meeting point, relaxing area and playground was ensured to have a unique identity.
Also as a permanent project, a redesign of the old market square was undertaken. Critical to the design was a new organization of traffic around the square, that enabled a new square-surface to be won, in lieu of a fountain-roundabout and a narrow stripe for pedestrians.
The square was designed so as to best accommodate many different uses, such as café terraces and market stands, but also to serve as an attractive backdrop for everyday local life.
An existing old fountain has been made accessible by adding round sitting steps around it. For the new stone paving, a special pattern has been designed that best suits the difficult, elongated shape of the square. Many events that were held here since the reopening witness the success of the redesign project’s success among local residents.
Entrant office name: Carla Lo Landschaftsarchitektur
Other design firms involved:
Landscape design collaborator and planting design: Marlis Rief
Planting design: Christian Meyer, Petra Pelz
Traffic planning: TRAFFIX Verkehrsplanung GmbH
Stream renaturalization project: PlanGo (Irene Gotschy-Russ and Rainer Russ)
Design of the two theme gardens: Bauchplan ).( (theme garden “Zwischentöne”) and
SHK Landschaftsarchitekten (theme garden “Auftakt”)
Project location: Kremsmünster, Austria
Design year: 2015-2017
Year Built: 2017
Image Credits: Johannes Hloch, Carla Lo Landschaftsarchitektur