Swamp Garden

Charleston, South Carolina, USA

In 1997 West 8 landscape architects was invited to design an installation for the Spoleto Art Festival, a yearly event since 1977, encompassing a large variety of performing and visual arts. It is held in the city of Charleston (USA) where the natural setting and the subtropical climate create a spectacular and diverse landscape, consisting of the ocean, estuaries, rivers, salt water marshes and cypress swamps.

For the 1997 event an outdoors exhibition was organised around the theme Human/Nature: Art and Landscape in Charleston and the low country. For this occasion West 8 made a garden design for the Cypress Garden swamps. A rectangular structure of steel poles interconnected by steel wires separates a small part of the swamp area from its surroundings. The Spanish Moss which is hung over the wires, forms ultra-light, wavy walls creating an open-air room where changes in light from morning to evening cause constant modulations in atmosphere.

A twisted boardwalk leads from solid grounds into the swamps and is extended along two sides within the secluded area. One side offers a landing place for vessels, the other side provides two benches that have been constructed of a cypress trunk, found on the site. Here, in the surreal isolation of the cypress swamp, visitors can meditate on alligators sunbathing on a partly fixed raft in one of the corners.


Spoleto Art Fesival