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Junya Ishigama on the cover of the October 2019 issue of Azure Magazine. The Innovators Issue.
Current Issue

October 2019

#275
October 2019

The Innovators Issue: Junya Ishigama's genre-busting architecture, Sidewalk Labs and the future of the city, and more!

For your average landscaper, the suggestion of throwing 64 tonnes of salt onto a garden would induce paroxysm. But that’s exactly what the experimental design lab UrbanBs did. Its garden, called Fleur de Sel (literally “flower of salt,” punning on the French term for hand-harvested sea salt), is now on display at the Jardins de Métis garden festival in Quebec. Drawing inspiration from newly fallen snow on green terrain, it recreates the way plants, footprints, and objects are hidden during the winter months. The visible white surface hints at what’s beneath, letting the visitor’s imagination complete the picture of the garden below.

Of course, landscaping with mounds of salt is not as simple as dumping it directly onto the ground; high salinity increases the osmotic pressure of soil, rendering it toxic to most plants. A complex system of barriers were constructed to prevent salt from leaching into the surrounding soil, one comprising layers of PVC, geotextiles and gravel. And while the undulating mounds of salt remain exposed to the elements, a filtration system and pump retrieves salty rainwater for reuse.

This unusual approach to gardening is typical of UrbanBs, a collective of four architects and urban planners who also operate independent practices in Montreal, Milan, and Lausanne, Switzerland. Marco Asciutti, Farzaneh Bahrami, Enrique Enriquez, and Matteo Muggianu combine their different backgrounds, professional and cultural, to come up with unique approaches to design and urbanism.

What happens to all this salt when the gardens close in October? When the fantasy snowscape gives way to the real thing, the salt-cum-snow will come full circle: it will be reused to de-ice nearby roads.

Fleur de Sel and the other gardens making up this year’s festival will be on display until October 2, 2011.

AZURE is an independent magazine working to bring you the best in design, architecture and interiors. We rely on advertising revenue to support the creative content on our site. Please consider whitelisting our site in your settings, or pausing your adblocker while stopping by.