The concept of character of a place derives from the genius loci concept coined by Greek culture, this concept is one of the fundamental tools in landscape design. It recognizes that each landscape has its own character, a personality of its own that sets it apart from any other landscapes.
The defining elements of the character of a place are its form, function and history. These three elements, which are decisive in the design of the landscape, refer to matter, both living and inert and to historical and biological time.
Each place where a landscape is designed has a history: an ecological and a cultural history.
Ecological history is built based on the places’ different ecological components that determine its morphology, luminosity and atmosphere, a foundational spatiality. Based on this, a programme is defined, built and a future is anticipated through the project.
The ecological history of the place where the Garden of the Gulbenkian Foundation is designed is synthesized on the slope facing north where the Garden is located. It is an integral part of the morphological characteristics, generated by the relief, that characterize the city of Lisbon and that over a long time, were constructed.
The Cultural History
Cultural history can be read in a sequence of spaces that were built over time on this slope according to the transformations of society and consequently of the city:
Strong elements of this design are:
The character of the place in the Garden’s design
The analysis of the process developed by António Viana Barreto and Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles reveals that these ecological and historical dimensions were understood by the designers:
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