Fred and Elizabeth Fountain Garden Court
The National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada, a chiseled glass-and- concrete cathedral to the arts that rests on a bluff above the Ottawa River in the nation’s capital was explicitly designed to be modernist and monastic. The Court is a place of respite and contemplation amidst the vast collection of art.
The redesigned courtyard replaced the geometric forms of the old garden with an homage to the very landscape upon which the gallery rests: The escarpment above the Ottawa River. The objective was to properly contextualize the garden by bringing the materials, colours and textures from the gallery’s surroundings into the gallery itself.
Our challenge was to echo this landscape indoors. Local plants were identified and tropical (indoor plants) that could be used to recreate the look and feel a native landscape were catalogued. Every plant was quarantined and inspected for any insects that might invade the museum’s extensive collection. The weight of the boulders had to be carefully calculated as the garden rests on a slab that rest (frighteningly) over the art storage area.