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Kienast Vogt: Parks and Cemeteries

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review

Birkhäuser,2002.300pp. £42.50

With the publication of this volume, after two earlier ones on his designs for gardens and for 'open spaces', we now have the oeuvre complète of the Swiss landscape architect Dieter Kienast, who died in 1998, writes Andrew Mead. Latterly in partnership with Günther Vogt, Kienast was much sought after as a collaborator by Swiss architectural practices: the extensive list at the end of the book includes Herzog & de Meuron, Gigon Guyer and Peter Zumthor, as well as the longestablished Atelier 5.

Once more, the schemes are photographed in black and white with considerable sensitivity by Christian Vogt. The choice of black and white suits work that is characterised by strongly modelled forms (geometric earth mounds that suggest the influence of Ernst Cramer's 'Poet's Garden', AJ 18.4.02), sharply defined edges, and concern for tonal nuance in juxtaposed blocks of planting.

Once more, too, Kienast's skillful planning is in evidence - always introducing order and lucidity, but not in such a way that space becomes sterile or seems over-determined.

'The city and its open spaces cannot be planned as an undivided whole.We place our trust in mosaic-like interventions in the hope that this will give both the particular place and the whole meaning and readability, 'wrote Kienast in a text from 1993 reprinted as an introduction; he paid special attention to peripheral areas, 'the accidental by-products of planning and everyday use that nobody seems to know what to do with'.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Kienast refused to make a mantra of ecology: for this widely cultured man, that would have been to disregard many other dimensions of landscape.

Together, these three volumes record a prolific but sadly truncated career (Kienast was only 53 when he died), and surely merit serious study. Pictured above is Kienast's plan for the Graz International Garden Show 2000 (with his strongly sculptural 'Alpine Garden'at the centre), and, far left, the culmination of the path to the 'look-out platform'at the Fürstenwald cemetery in Chur (1993-96).

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