Taking time to stop and enjoy the view

Upon entry to our property near Dorset, along an abandoned roadbed that traverses the site, I have designed a gateway pavilion which sets the stage for the unfolding experiences that lay ahead. This entry marker, will be the first building constructed on the landscape, and will provide a glimpse of the architectural approach that each element will take as you explore the other areas of the property.  Designed as an object, earthwork, and environmental sculpture, it will announce to visitors that they have begun a unique journey, one inherently tied to both the physical place but also to my own personal vision for this landscape.

The gateway is an essay in permanence and ephemerality, between those elements that would last beyond a lifetime and leave an enduring mark on the landscape and those elements, like a bouquet of flowers, that may fade and die within the course of a day. A monument, and a stage to host an event simultaneously, it marks the passage of time and becomes unique for each guest.

Each element, in this composition of distinct parts, is a memory of the historic traces left on this landscape.  Its placement, immediately upon entry into the property, will give one the understanding that upon arrival into this site, each moment is worthy of contemplation.  A monument and an event simultaneously, it will mark the passage of time and becomes unique for each guest. Its most enduring features are the stone walls, that will be constructed from rough cut granite, salvaged from the foundation of a nearby historic barn.

A circular hole in the wood decking, which is also the ceiling of the gallery space accessible from below, is designed to allow light to filter down into the space through a glass vase which accommodates a “forest bouquet” during special occasions. 

The gateway will provide a platform to observe the river valley below. The visitor is encouraged to stop and contemplate this view across the river valley to an art installation beyond. 

While appearing natural, the vista through the trees to the clearing created by the beaver meadow some 100m away has been manipulated by my partner Kyle and I, through selective pruning, to create the first of many picturesque views into the distance.

The visitor will be made aware at this moment that these human interventions have informed their understanding of this landscape. That what initially appeared as a completely untouched wilderness is instead a landscape carefully manipulated to create these special moments.

A path will be created to allow access from this pavilion to the river below. Here hikers will experience its dark, deep water pools filled with fish and shaded by huge moss-covered glacial boulders at every turn.

Over the summer of 2020 my partner Kyle and I have learned more about our landscape approach to the site as we began to create the first paths through the forest. I had purposefully selected this property, which is already blessed with an amazing palette of naturally occurring experiences, that we have only to “reveal” by selectively removing small trees, branches and other vegetative materials that are “cloaking” these features.

I had mentioned to Kyle that I understand the landscape we are creating to be more like a metaphorical “excavation” of the forest, to reveal its hidden attributes.  With little means, we have been able to reveal the sites inherent qualities, in a way which is similar to how an archeologist uncovers hidden artifacts buried beneath the soil.  An even better analogy to describe our landscape approach would be the example set by the archeologists of Angkor Wat in Cambodia where the rainforest vegetation, that had completely engulfed the ancient temple structures, was painstakingly removed to reveal the full extent of these ancient stone monuments.

As the weather cools in late summer, we are about to begin the next phase of our efforts in the forest, creating the full extent of the paths throughout the site. As we selectively prune small trees in our way, and move gingerly through the forest, the wonders of the landscape around us will inform the direction of where this path proceed. I have come to know this place through aerial photos and after walking through it over the last two decades, but even with all this former knowledge of the landscape, the route we finally carve through the forest is still quite malleable and will meander to capitalize upon any special moments we may find. As summer wains, I can’t wait to see how these paths, and the views out into the distant landscape that we have created, will appear with the colours of fall as you look out from the site of the Gateway Pavilion towards the light filled beaver meadow in the distance.

%d bloggers like this: