Botanic gardens have always been about plants. The design of botanic gardens offers a unique window into how we humans have used and valued plants over the past several centuries. Man s relationship with, and attitude towards nature has been directly influenced by the economical, social and environmental conditions that prevailed during that era. This in turn has greatly influenced the way landscape design, and in turn botanical garden design, has been approached and shaped throughout the centuries as well as how man experiences the landscape and plants specifically.
It became evident that man has the habit to submit control over nature, by pruning and shaping nature to be confined by manicured borders or edges. Whether these borders are created to form a romantic picture of nature or whether it is to perform certain ecological functions for the environment, these borders have the inherent ability to limit the potential of nature to grow on intuition and dampen its ability to perform as the living, changing, dynamic entity that it is. The design of most botanical gardens, including the design of the Pretoria National Botanical Garden, tend to comply with this idea of control over nature.
This dissertation investigates the relationship between people and plants, as well as people and the landscape, within the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens, and focus on the redesign of a part thereof by using the regional landscape as the link between them. This new design is approached in a way that celebrates the extraordinary qualities of plants without limiting the potential of plants to perform in its own unique way. This was done by first looking at current theories in the landscape architectural profession on how to design with change as the medium, and second to find inspiration on designing the change and movement of a living entity (nature) and the way to guide this performance, through another performance art: dance.
The landscape design of the botanical garden challenges the way we interact with nature in a landscape in order to restore the interrelationships among plants, animals and humans and clearly communicate to the audience the fact that nature is alive, flexible and changing. It also shows that nature shouldn't be submitted to full control, and that this flexibility of nature is one of its greatest assets.
Mini Dissertation (ML(Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2015.