88_DO05_Roubert-Savio_It Takes Work to Get the Natural Look
Chloé Roubert & Gemma Savio It Takes Work to Get the Natural Look, 2015, installation view, Bauhaus, Dessau.
Photo : Gemma Savio, courtesy of the artists

It Takes Work to Get the Modern Lawn

Chloé Roubert
Gemma Savio
On the Walter Gropius-designed Bauhaus campus in Dessau, a site often considered the birthplace of modern architecture, sit 2,115 square metres of impeccably manicured lawn. More than most lawns, this restrained patch of organic life is constantly having its survival ensured by human labour and engineered devices, due to its location on a UNESCO heritage site. Twice a day, a network of subterranean wells hydrates it via nine water sprinklers; every third Thursday, a team of four men on two riding lawn mowers spend eight hours trimming it; and, to ensure minimum disturbance to the finished product, a small fence permanently discourages humans from burdening it with their weight.

The Bauhaus campus in Dessau is a site celebrated by UNESCO as “a reminder of the still uncompleted project for ‘modernity with a human face.’”1 1 - UNESCO website, accessed January 9, 2016, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/729.This official narrative is embedded throughout the site — in the iconic dormitory balconies, the exposed light fittings, and the glass curtain wall that covers the workshop spaces. As research residents invited to develop a project, we used the same site-specific tactic to articulate an additional message, one that subverts the celebration of “modernity with a human face” to reveal a condition that recognizes and encompasses the role of the living and of the terrain for its very existence.

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This article also appears in the issue 88 – Landscape - Landscape
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