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The Living Garden of Knowledge

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  • An astounding living library built from 40,000 reclaimed books has sprouted in the middle of the forest as part of the 11th International Garden Festival in Métis, Quebec. Designed by Thilo Folkerts and Rodney Latourelle, Jardin de la Connaisance, or the Garden of Knowledge, is a unique outdoor library that features living books sown with several varieties of mushrooms. Playing off the theme of paradise and the Tree of Knowledge, the temporary garden brings the books back to their roots in a natural setting.

    The colourful discarded books were stacked to create garden walls, benches and carpets that are integrated within the site and structure of the forest. In an amazing example of book architecture, the books are stacked like bricks, while open volumes form cushioned carpets on the forest floor. Latourelle worked in collaboration with Folkerts of 100Landschaftarchitecktur to design the ‘utopian’ garden as a compelling new way to experience the forest — as an information platform as well as a return to nature.


    The temporary garden centers around the festival's theme of paradise and specifically the tree of knowledge, which was located in the center of the Garden of Eden. The garden brings the books back to their birthplace in the forest while providing visitors with a new way to experience nature. The garden of knowledge acts more like a temporary library and reading room, offering visitors a quiet place to reflect and read.

    The 40,000 discarded books  are used to form walls, benches and even a carpet. The carpet is created by burying the books in soft sand, leaving the spines exposed. Cultivated edible mushrooms are inserted into the pages of the books, where they will grow and root deeper over time. The mushrooms enhance the temporary qualities of the garden -- they work to deconstruct the structure of the installation as they grow.

    The books were gathered from libraries and other storehouses that hoped to sell the books if the price of pulp rose enough. The pulp price never rose, so they sat in storage. Now the 40,000 books form the temporary garden for visitors to enjoy, browse, learn, and reflect upon. Colorful wooden plates act as bookmarks in the stacks of books, helping to support the structure and tie the books together.

    The International Garden Festival in Métis opened on June 26th. The 21 temporary gardens will be open to visitors until October 3rd, 2010.


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    References: http://www.jardinsmetis.com/english/festival/edition.php
    http://inhabitat.com