The Garden of Apollo
THE GARDEN OF APOLLO OLEANDER STREET THE GARDENS ST JULIANS MALTA ARCHITECT RICHARD ENGLAND LIGHTING CONSULTANT STEPHEN BUTTIGIEG “The hands want to see. The eyes want to caress` Goethe A section of my residence, recently remodelled as a work area and cloistered courtyard. The interior houses a studio providing work spaces and meeting areas, while the walled garden provides an enclosure designed specifically as a meditative locus of calm and tranquility; a form of allegorical and illusory stage-set, evoking Giorgio de Chirico’s enigmatic Mediterranean canvasses, where dream-like architectural images are juxtaposed with statuary to produce overall metaphysical effects of serenity and stasis. As an architect I have always believed that architecture must provide a sensorial experience and that the creation of any architectural space is not only about art, science and craft, but more so, about emotion, memory and story telling. The fourth dimension in architecture is often referred to as time; I, however, believe it would be more appropriate if it was thought of in terms of spirit. This sun-washed courtyard, a canvas on which light exhales and shadow inhales, may be read as a poetic reflection of the architect in search of himself, evoking Bernard Berenson’s words, “The ultimate justification of the work of art is to help the spectator to become a work of art himself`. Primarily designed as a secret garden, its objective is to create a theatrical oasis which enables one to distance oneself from the chaotic intrusions of everyday life, and to act as an antidote to contemporary man’s mechanised and turmoiled life-style. The garden is dedicated to Apollo the mythological god of proportion, music, poetry and magic. Coloured casts of this Greek sun god stand on pedestals as if guarding and protecting this enclave of quiescence. Planting around the area includes ambrosia, hyacinth and other nectared flowers all strongly associated with this mythological god. Use, is also made of the lush layered background of the main garden in the spatial illusion tradition of the ‘borrow scenery’ of the Japanese Kara-Senzui gardens. This is a work conceived as a “built` poem to enable one to engage in dream and desire while evoking an architecture which reflects my belief that built environments should above all provide soul enhancing ambiances enabling one to experience oneself as a spiritual being. It is a minimal space which amalgamates ascetic form and luxurious colour intended to be enjoyed not only visually but to encourage the eye to collaborate with the other four senses. It is an architect’s attempt to create an exiguous private arcadia of silence and secrecy; a contemplative environment shrouded in mystic and mystery. At night, intensified blue-tinged light-hues prevail, in homage to Apollo’s twin, the moon-goddess Artemis. In these cerulean tones, the place silently murmurs responsive rememberings, evoking a ‘mis-en-scene’ of immaterial ethereal temporality. “Art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos …An arrest of attention in the midst of distraction`. Saul Bellow RICHARD ENGLAND.

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