Minéral-Végétal : Two visions of the garden

When a city architect, coming from the North, and a Mediterranean landscape gardener, rooted in his Provençal land, compare their visions of the garden, what elements and lessons can we draw from them? A book first, "Mineral-Vegetable - Two Visions of the Garden" in which for Jean Mus as for Jean-Michel Wilmotte, it was a drive towards Beauty that determined their work and their lives. But each seems to approach this objective from a diametrically opposed point of view: intellect and rationality for one, sensuality and emotion for the other. To the Cartesian or "Apollinian" spirit of Wilmotte, the solar champion of form, logic and the plastic arts, is it necessary to oppose the instinctive, "Dionysian" spirit of Mus, defender of rationalism and defender of sincerity, exuberance, laughter and mystery? The line for one, the curve for the other; the preponderance of mineral for the architect, and that of the plant for the landscape architect? A jubilant "confrontation"!
L’The book, published at the end of October by Ulmer, is a splendid pretext for a fruitful dialogue, collected by Dane McDowell, between two great creators: two antinomic points of view underlie their respective creative processes, how they express themselves in their work, how they oppose, confront and, in the end, often come together.
                                       ©Pascal Tournaire / François Neveux, Landscaper                              ©Atelier Jean Mus & Compagnie, landscaper
Often, the relationship between architects and landscapers proves to be a thorny subject! To put it in a nutshell, on the one hand, landscapers are perceived as gardeners. On the other hand, they think that architects carry out a project without first considering the context in which it is situated. In the relationship of architecture to landscape, it is the status of architecture as an object, i.e. independent of the landscape context, that has dominated from the modern movement and still dominates the majority of architectural production today. However, over the last thirty years or so, this state of affairs has gradually been called into question by many contemporary architects and a fundamental change is slowly emerging. The figure/background or object/context relationship is gradually being abandoned. Landscape as a discipline is like architecture: the combination of two factors leading to its result, art and technique, in the service of man.

To build is to collaborate with the earth: it is to put a human mark on a landscape that will be forever changed by it. "Excerpt from the Memoirs of Hadrian, by Marguerite Yourcenar.
The fundamental differences between the two professions are related to the intrinsic characteristics of the professions and disciplines: space, time, as well as political, economic and sociological factors. Do architects and landscape architects still have a very different perception of the environment? The priorities of one are not necessarily those of the other and their conception of a project does not involve the same elements. If we accentuate the way in which the two professions look at the environment, the architect looks inwards, the landscape architect looks outwards. Architecture and landscape have always coexisted, so how can they be reconciled harmoniously? (1)
Two lovers of nature and the history of the area meet words and glances through the pages of a book telling "simply the happiness of living and sharing" two complementary professions. The "Beautiful" is the impetus that has determined their work and their life. Each approaches this objective from a diametrically opposed point of view: intellect and rationality for one, sensuality and emotion for the other.
The art of the garden is the art of creating images to express a personal relationship with nature. In the same way, any architectural project looking towards the future must take into account its environment and keep landmarks that preserve the imprints of the past, even if they are barely visible.
Above: ©Pascal Tournaire / François Neveux, Landscaper       
Downstairs ©Philippe Perdereau / Atelier Jean Mus & Compagnie, landscaper 
"The consequence of a transformation of nature through a thoughtful approach, Jean Mus, is an emotional, artistic and humanistic process that takes history into account. The creator must exalt the particularities of the site and highlight subtle interactions by integrating sustainable constructions. It is a new reading, a cultural commentary on the landscape he proposes, both perennial and transitory, combining past and future in time and space".
For his part, Jean-Michel Wilmotte says The creation of a garden forces us to rethink the encounter between nature and the built environment. The landscape architect must understand and love the place he is investing in. A dialogue is established between a creative gesture and its environment, the vibration of the site and the use of new materials. The new installed rhythm brings a contemporary writing that enriches the local timelessness with a new history ".
In Mus as in Wilmotte, the fascination for the place of creation that is the garden, born from their earliest childhood, does not obey any philosophical or political diktat. They both let themselves be surprised and moved by the beauty of things: a landscape, a cloudy sky, a work of art, music, a great wine, ...: a great freshness and an incredible gift for continuous wonder, despite very different paths and inspirations.
Light is one of the materials of architecture. JM. Wilmotte "
Thanks to the light energy, the vegetation blossoms harmoniously. J. Mus "
So, if travel and education influenced their creation, how did this experience impact their concept? What components are found in these two curious and observant men? How does the concept come about? Impulsive, eternally in a hurry, they both draw freehand. And if we look at the sketchbooks of these two creators, what do we find in them? Quick sketches, tangled lines that fill sheets and notes that are almost impossible to decipher... At this stage, the line is the expression of thought. Thought is set in motion, escaping all academic rules.
Minéral-Végétal - Two visions of the garden, by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, architect and Jean Mus, Landscape designer - Interview by Dane Mc Dowell - Edition Ulmer
The author, Dane MCDOWELL
Dane McDowel, a long-time friend of Jean Mus, was for some twenty years editor-in-chief of the magazine Résidences Décoration. She is also the author with Jean Mus of Jardins secrets de Méditerranée.
Jean MUS
Jean Mus is the preferred landscape designer of a French and international elite. Heir to the Mediterranean tradition that links nature and culture, he takes his native land to the four corners of the world. His previous books (Jean Mus. Jardins secrets de Méditerranée, Flammarion in 2005, and Jean Mus. Les jardins de Provence, Le Chêne, 1996) sold 40,000 and 9,000 copies respectively. Jean Mus lives in Cabris, near Grasse.
Jean-Michel WILMOTTE
Jean-Michel Wilmotte is an internationally renowned architect, urban planner and designer. He has designed or rehabilitated many places, including the development of the "Grand Louvre" in Paris, the Palais des Congrès in Bordeaux, the Chiado Museum in Lisbon, etc. He is also the author of many books, including Plon's Dictionary of Architecture.
(1) Source: Aurélie Demuyter. The delicate art of reconciling architecture and landscape. Agricultural sciences. 2012.

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