Seeds of design: Tread the boards in this baroque garden

This wonderful baroque theatre formed part of V&A’s Opera: Passion, Power and Politics exhibition. I love the sense of nostalgia, reminding me what theatre sets used to look like in bygone days. The sense of false perspective created by this exhibit was fascinating and it inspired me to design a baroque garden.

Baroque theatre
The replica baroque theatre at the V&A. Photograph: Marion Burnier/Hawthorn

The seed of inspiration

Baroque style is ornate and often extravagant. It encompasses architecture, art and music that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the late 18th century. This wonderful replica of a baroque period theatre really captured my imagination. It is a moving installation and plays Handel’s 1711 opera Rinaldo as the scenery turns. The theatre is hand-painted and very atmospheric. As well as viewing the exhibit from the front, backstage you can see all the rope and pulley workings that bring it to life.

Garden design sketch based on the baroque theatre
Garden design sketch based on the baroque theatre

The garden design bud

I wanted this design to have the feeling of depth. Two platforms are sat in the space diagonally opposite each other, decked in timber to represent the flooring of the stage. These areas are joined by decking pathways. Each route has a minimum of two feature arches. These are made up of a variety of materials to create depth and add texture and interest. Chain curtain, timber archway or a slate wall with a door beckon you to pass through to the area beyond. In the centre are a series of frames: a mesh panel, a solid Corten-steel wall, and another timber frame. These help to frame a specimen plant. Similar to the theatre, the whole structure is designed to be viewed primarily from the front, but also from the reverse

Other influences bloom

Baroque is so dominant that it is hard to mix with any other inspirations. The mood board contains images of Marie Antoinette and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Inspiration comes from Baroque footings.
Inspiration comes from baroque features

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