Topographical design and artificial excavation in the modern landscape: Chandigarh, Brasilia, Moerenuma

  1. Rodríguez Fernández, Carlos 1
  2. Fernández Raga, Sagrario 1
  1. 1 Universidad de Valladolid

    Universidad de Valladolid

    Valladolid, España


ECLAS Conference 2015. Landscapes in Flux

Publisher: Department of Landscape Architecture, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu, Estonia.

Year of publication: 2015

Type: Conference paper


In the mid-twentieth century, Chandigarh and Brasilia, both new towns settled on natural landscapes and designed respectively by the architects Le Corbusierand Lucio Costa, are organized around each one parks, Capitol Park in Chandigarh and the Monumental Axis of Brasilia. In the late twentieth century, the Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi designs in Sapporo the Moerenuma Park. These three large parks are built as artificial topographies, a geometric overlay on the ground that is materialized into a topographical work, which is constructed with sequences of platforms, inclined ground planes and slopes, but also with artificial mountains and other earthworks. The topographic landscape manipulation pursues a perspective control from mechanisms of classic French Baroque garden to sequenced visions of space for a dynamic viewer. In some places, the ground surface is cut, drilled and excavated, as a fictitious archaeological excavation – a term defined in the 80s by Peter Eisenman in his projects known as Cities of Artificial Excavation. With these invented archaeologies, the void and shadows are incorporated into the ground and consequently the concept of “time passing” appears in the landscape. These tools are similar to those experimented by American land artists contemporarily, like Michael Heizer´s archaeological works in the desert. In this way it could be explained the cross printed on the bus station in Brasilia, symbol of the foundation of the city directly cut on concrete platforms; a series of archaeological pits that discover an ancient underground world in the front gardens of the Palace of the Governor in Chandigarh and the triangular stone garden excavated in the centre of the Moerenuma Park. In these three cases, design composition is focused on the ground surface as artificial topographies that are excavated in some points in order to generate anchor points with the surrounding landscape.

Funding information

Este trabajo forma parte del proyecto de investigación: Modelos de integración sostenible de nuevas infraestructuras en paisajes patrimoniales arquitectónicos y arqueológicos (HAR 2012-35356). Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. Gobierno de España.