The pioneering spirit of the plants requires ongoing taming to ensure that nature does not entirely reclaim the land – or the architecture. The ruins were carefully planned through experiments with models; when the demolition company turned up, they were surprised to be tasked with chipping only that which lay above a hand-drawn purple line circumventing the walls of the boathouse. The results were not intended to be merely a backdrop for the plants, nor are the plants regarded as decorative flourishes for more dominant sculptural elements. “We take care to prune back the Sumac trees, for example,” Lincke explains, “we don’t want a fairy tale situation where the plants are completely taking over the walls.”
Notions of entanglement over time and of some plants vying for space over others have parallels with the garden’s wider context, too. The complexity of the enmeshed histories Berlin has accumulated are readable not just though its current architecture but also that which is now absent, despite attempts to start anew – the newly opened Humboldt Forum in the city centre, a partial reconstruction of the city’s former Prussian palace on the site of the demolished GDR’s Palast der Republik is only the most recent installment in an ongoing debate about not just what gets built, but what remains. Read online.
Text on the Ruin Garden created by Tanja Lincke and Anselm Reyle at their home in Berlin, for The Architectural Review’s February 2021 issue on the theme of garden. Photographs by Noshe.