Harvard Graduate School of Design
London: Third Natures Pleasure Garden Options Studio
Critics: Efren Garcia Grina and Cristina Diaz Moreno
Year: 2015

Published Harvard Graduate School of Design's 'Platform 8' Annual Journal
Exhibited Harvard Graduate School of Design's 'Platform 8 Exhibition'

Cumulus: A Natural Everyday Pleasure Garden


By revisiting the notion of pleasure gardens, this project seeks to develop a medium-scale interiorized public building. It tests the relevance of the contemporary garden in the city, public landscape program, the greenhouse and office building typologies, structural language, multi-valent scales of organization, and interior landscape spatial conditions to create a rare new species of public artifact in the form of a renewed Pleasure Garden.


Cumulus takes the urban-nature-fetishist and examples of subnatures, such as the weed in the traditional English garden and the debris of Old Father Thames, as actors from which to extract ideas of contemporary nature as public space. The urban-nature-fetishist and the nomadic worker undertake the main activity of working in the most contemporary sense... working for pleasure.  Thus, Cumulus offers spaces for the pleasure of work as a means to create a collective space: both land-working and net-working.


CUMULUS: A NATURAL, EVERYDAY PLEASURE GARDEN is:
1. A heap. A heap which takes up a greater space than the earth it came from.
2. A public space, productive space, environmentally controlled space. It is a territorial space, one that collects and accumulates ideas of nature present in our contemporary culture and presents them within one, subnatural and hermetically sealed cubic environment.
3. TQ 27 899349, a 100m x 100m x 100m occupant of the Ordinace Survey's English National Grid System, False Origin Centered at 49*N and 2*W, Transverse Mercator projected Airy Spheroid with a central meridian scaled to .9996
4. A sheep pasture, a productive farm, a collection of six seeded soil hothouses, a space for the nomadic workforce, a mountain with an overlook, a cut and fill operation.
5. A construction of both massive land operations and architectural processes, in which the basic cut and fill operation of the land becomes enclosed, hermetically sealed, to create one large hot house in which six other sub-enviornments are held together - affected by the overall whole. These secondary spaces are the primary ones of human occupancy, in which pleasure is found in their enclosed, connected, and yet discrete spaces.


Shifting Sites: overlaying grid systems determine our understanding of territory and physical space. Cumulus occupies the entirety of 
TQ 27 899349, Ordinace Survey's English National Grid System, False Origin Centered at 49*N and 2*W, Transverse Mercator projected Airy Spheroid with a central meridian scaled to .9996.

The pleasure of working the land is found on the surrounding productive farm that encompasses 1/2 of TQ 27 899349.  Much like Olmstead's sheep pasture in Central Park, the farm acts as the foreground and the frame for the mountain mass background, offering both an idyllic scene as well as a plethora of subnatural experiences as one approaches the building itself.



Production for pleasures’ sake: a productive farm for useless production.

Earth is heaped as an excavation from the adjacent site in which another, 50m x 50m x 50m building is embedded within the ground. The overall building is composed of these two masses, one hollow within the earth, and one above the earth yet containing it. Both are sealed, temperate environments. Within these earth environments are three hothouses of varying scales in the above mass, and three in the below mass. Each hot house has a distinct entrance form the pasture and productive landscape, yet is affected by adjacencies to large building systems of earth mass temperature and event space sound. Also within this earth pile are the spaces for the production of food from the pasture, areas for hydroponic cultivation, and food packaging and processing. Structuring this all, the rigid circulation concrete tubes intersect and meander, merging and bringing together all these systems into a network of faraway nearby places.






Spatial Conditions: through process of excavating, piling, shifting, and collecting, various environments and subnatures at all scales are created, from the open plan office, to the soil-filled hothouse, to the intimate fungi farm, to the scenic overlook.





Cumulus is constructed through a combination of architectural processes (framing, bracing, enclosing) and landform operations (excavating, reinforcing, piling, and bracing earth).  





Structuring this all, the rigid circulation concrete tubes intersect and meander, merging and bringing together all these systems into a network of faraway nearby places.







Soil is not ground and ground is not soil. Rather than understanding soil as a solid mass, soil is understood as a body, in its corporeal state it is a functioning biotype that when surrounded by subtle temperatures, air, and sunlight, gives way to growth and life.






The most natural parts of the city are made explicit through contact with people and the built environment, a production of the intersection between life and our world which in fact, produces the most natural, or as David Gissen puts it, the “subnatural”. The tension felt when dust, weeds, dankness, smoke, gas, exhaust, mud, puddles, and more collect within the city and are intersected with the everyday trajectories of the human, this tension makes explicit the inherent otherness of the new nature, the subnature








The project is supplemented by Field Notes and a guide to CUMULUS, ideas, collections of precedents, catalogue of terms, and manifestos on contemporary work.



© Carly Gertler 2017