European and Chinese Gardens
KES 02 - 24 - 2010

While in Europe, we experienced a series of many gardens. All had common characteristics and design aspects popular to that specific area. As we have now also toured a few gardens in China, I have analyzed and noted many differences between the two cultures. The Boboli Garden in Florence, Italy (shown in the top of image 002) was one of the larger and more focused gardens of our European garden experience. It was a very large, open space that allowed for easy circulation through very wide pathways. Hedges, trees, and stone walls acted as partition pieces to divide the spaces and direct you on your path. It was very easy to separate yourself from the rest of the visitors and enjoy a relaxing walk. There were hardly any buildings, but sculptures and water features that created focal points throughout the garden. It overlooks the Tuscan hills and the rest of Florence, using height in elevation as a positive design aspect. The circulation is designed to create many decision points along your journey so that you can guide yourself, rather than be guided by one single path. We also visited the Lingering Garden in Suzhou, China (sketched in image 001 and shown in the bottom of image 002). The Chinese gardens have many distinct aspects that differentiate it from those that we explored in Europe. They are much more compact, first of all, and circulation is a little more difficult. Pathways are smaller and more directional through a series of hallways, bridges, interior spaces, and balconies. The built environment is more evident in this setting, in that, all of the gardens were centralized in courtyard-type spaces. Small bodies of water act as the main focus points of the garden, at which, most people tend to gather. Layers of rocks along the water create a very dynamic atmosphere with many different sitting areas. It is almost as if you are rock climbing at times. While in the Chinese gardens I could definitely determine where I was based on the cultural-specific additions. The designs of their rooftops are distinguishable, along with the hanging red lamps, dragons, and other Chinese sculptures. Their space is designed much more based on culture than the Boboli Garden, I would say. Being two completely different cultures, it is easy to notice the many different characteristics between the two types of design. Both have their own positive and negative aspects that relate specifically to their culture. By analyzing these popular spaces, it is easier to understand cultural aspects of each country and the people that inhabit them. S

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