The Internationale Gartenausstellung 2017 – IGA is a permanent contemporary landscape exhibition located on the outskirts of Berlin, within a rejuvenated 102 hectare park surrounded by one of the largest prefabricated housing estates in Europe. Nine leading international landscape architects were allocated 380square-metres to create a garden that showcased the cultural landscape of their home country.
Cultivated by Fire explores the Australian Aboriginal land management practice known as ‘fire-stick farming’ or ‘fire mosaics’. This sophisticated practice of selective, low-intensity burning serves many purposes including reducing the risk of larger and more unpredictable bushfires, creating open country ideal for hunting and increasing fertile new growth that provides an abundance of edible plants for both wildlife and humans. The recent devastating bushfires in Australia in early 2020 highlight the need to investigate alternative land management practices and look to the ways in with Aboriginal people sustainably care for the landscape.
The garden distils and abstracts the fire-stick farming practice to create a mosaic garden composed of elements reminiscent of both the burnt and rejuvenated Australian landscape. These elements include actual fire, charred poles and clipped branches, Eucalyptus and Acacia seedlings, floriferous garden beds of Australian native plants and a walkable orange ground plane of crushed red brick that is reminiscent of the fiery sands of the central Australian desert.
Creating a garden in Europe with a vastly different climate to Australia had its challenges. A close working relationship was formed with the client and local German Landscape Architecture consultants, through the planning, management and monitoring of construction works. Bespoke solutions were developed for working in this climate, plants species were substituted with suitable alternatives, particularly grasses that were aesthetically similar to Australian grasses, assistance was provided in sourcing plants and seeds for propagation and even in the detailing an underground heating system for the garden’s Eucalypts.
Cultivated by Fire promotes Australia and Australian landscape architecture to a broader public, fostering an understanding of the rich cultural and environmental history, as experienced by an estimated 1.6 million visitors per year. The project has received wide publication internationally.
Berlin IGA – Cultivated by Fire
Location: Berlin, Germany
Date of Completion: 2017
Designer: Taylor Cullity Lethlean
Collaborators: k1 Landschaftsarchitekten
Client: International Garden Exhibition IGA Berlin
Photographer(s): Lena Giovanezzi, Kate Cullity, Nico Nowak