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 colorful 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 garden engages the mythical relation between knowledge and nature integral to the concept of ‘paradise’. By using books as material in the construction of the garden, we confront these instruments of knowledge with the temporality of nature. And by exposing these fragile and supposedly timeless materials to transformation and disintegration, we invite an emotional involvement of the visitor.”
Colorful book plates support the book structures, bind stacks together, and also act as bookmarks that mark a location within the pages. The books also serve to nourish and support new life. Eight different edible fungi varieties such as Winecap and Oyster mushrooms are cultivated within the pages of the books, where they will grow and root over time. The mushrooms support the idea of temporary space, which changes over time — after the festival the temporary garden will be deconstructed and the books will be composted or recycled.
Photo credits: ©Thilo Folkerts