Gardens of Interstitial Wildness: Cultivating Indeterminacy in the Metropolitan Landscape

S. Luo, K.M. Havik

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This paper looks into ‘gardens of wildness’ that have been established in metropolitan interstitial spaces. These unused, unfunctional urban spaces could be considered as spatial-temporary interstices of the metropolitan landscape. These ‘interstitial spaces’ possess the potential to host diverse social-ecological minorities that tend to be excluded by regulated urban spaces. The ecological qualities of interstitial spaces are recognised by French garden designer Gilles Clément, who regards spontaneous ecologies, which emerge in neglected spaces of the city, as cherished reservoirs that diversify and sustain the urban ecology. Specifically, this paper discusses the value of making gardens of interstitial wildness. If the garden is a potential design approach magnifying the quality of the place, what would be the role of interstitial wild gardens? Furthermore, how do these gardens respond to the relationship between interstitial spaces and the metropolitan landscape? In this paper we will analyse Gilles Clément’s garden design of Jardins du Tiers-Paysage (Gardens of The Third Landscape), located on the roof of the repurposed submarine base of Saint-Nazaire (FR). Reading Saint-Nazaire’s urban context and examining the design from ecological and experiential points of view, this paper shows how the gardens re-introduce the submarine base as a place in the metropolitan landscape of Saint-Nazaire. Orchestrating the experience of the site’s spatial characteristics and the emerging wildness, the gardens elicit an appreciation of the autonomy of non-human agencies and simultaneously reflect upon the heterogeneity of the metropolitan landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-22
Number of pages14
JournalSpool. Journal of Architecture and the Built Environment
Issue number1 #6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Garden
  • Interstitial
  • Landscape architecture
  • Metropolitan landscape
  • Wildness


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