An almost whimsical garden where in just one go, you can walk through an entire year of seasonal flowers and plants. While still under construction, this enclosed Garden of the Four Seasons in Milan has just been revealed and aims to form a stronger and closer tie between the city people and nature’s flowering cycles. Dr. Barbara Römer, founder of the creative consultancy Studio Römer, was the creator behind the project. It showcases a new system for high-precision climate control, where incoming solar energy is partially collected through photovoltaics and then partially redistributed among the different seasonal areas, without any net energy consumption.
Overview of the Garden
The Garden of the Four Seasons regulates the internal environmental conditions to ensure a favourable surrounding for the various plants to grow, according to their seasonal needs and characteristics. A transparent and responsive ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) film uses sensors to open and close. This allows plants’ metamorphosis to keep track of the four seasonal cycles by constantly fine-tuning lighting levels and heat. Guests can start their experience at the spring section with colourful blooms and finish at the magical winter area accented by branches covered in thick coats of snow.
To ensure clean energy for the year-round sustainability of the plants, photovoltaic cells cover the ETFE membrane structure. It also allows the suitable allocation of energy to cool and heat the winter and summer spaces. Think of the way a refrigerator system works, but in a larger scale where you can freely walk around. There is also heat transfer within the pavilions, allowing each pavilion to secure the essential intermediate environmental conditions.
Carlo Ratti, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and founding partner at Carlo Ratti architects, highlights another major principal that the omni-seasonal garden focuses on: educating about climate control and remediation.
As climate change might become more extreme, the importance of envisioning strategies for climate remediation will increase dramatically.
—Professor Carlo Ratti
He points this out as the inspiration behind the“Garden of the Four Seasons”, in which the team “ushers in a technique for a sustainable and emphatic Internet of Plants.”
What visitors can expect to encounter in the Garden
The garden is visually interactive when it comes to learning. To accentuate the experience of the visitors, an array of digital sensors keep track of the quantity of water, temperature, humidity and nutrients required by each vegetable species. These details then pop out as “tweets” from the plants as their status—talk about digital era! You can work within nature, eat al fresco during Milan’s cold winters, or even celebrate a wedding in the Eternal Spring area. How magical!
The Garden of the Four Seasons is inspired [by] the historical Quattro Stagioni fountain located nearby in the neighbourhood. Our aim was to create a symbolic parallelism with the past, projecting the old theme of the four seasons into the future, thanks to the adoption of new sustainable technologies.
—Andrea Cassi, Carlo Ratti Associati Project Manager
Garden of the Four Seasons was commissioned by Citylife, a new neighbourhood under development in the north-west of Milan based on a master plan by Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind and Arata Isozaki. It covers an area of more than 2,500 square meters, located within Citylife’s new park.
Written by: Sumichhya Gurung