Empathy Garden was designed as a hybrid space—a meeting point, a stage for events, and a showcase for farm products. It’s a place where people and plants can thrive together in harmony, and their actions are converted into a tangible soundscape. The key concept of the project is empathy; the ability to perceive the world outside ourselves, while also realizing that we’re part of it. We believe that only through the development of a strong empathic link with what surrounds us we can find ourselves in balance with nature. The installation was structured on a geometric pattern for the central pavilion, with radial planters filled with hundreds of plants.

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Landscape Architecture and Music

Key elements that were taken into account were color and overall effect, as well as the proportion and geometry of the modules and “sails” as distinctive elements of the installation. The landscape architect carefully studied the arrangement of the species according to the sizes of individual plants. Despite the density of fruits, flowers and foliage (there were over 800 plants of 20 different species), the structure of the design would remain visible, while the overall intent was to create scenes and target looks towards interesting details.

As for the choice of colors, the landscape architect was inspired by the harmony that binds colors and music in synaesthetic perception. At the center, where the volume of the music is increased, the whites of ageratum, carnations and violets, then the yellow marigolds, peppers and chillies, and yellow violets to accompany our gaze to the tones of orange and red. Cyclamen, snapdragons, nasturtiums, and tomatoes ease into the dark shades of black cabbages and asters. Aromatic species such as mint, oregano, myrtle, thyme, and helichrysum mixed their fragrances to deepen visitors’ experiences, while harp strings and motion-tracking devices ensure that melodies follow every move, and can be influenced by every visitor’s touch.

In this garden, you are drawn around by colors, aromas and music, and it becomes easier to remember that we are part of nature as a whole. Empathy Garden was born as an installation in the Central Pavilion of the Exhibition Centre of Villa Erba on the Lake of Como at the Orticolario horticulture event (3-5 October 2014)—one of Italy’s leading events on advanced gardening.

+ Empathy Garden

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