Installed for the annual Annecy Paysages Festival, New York City-based studio Behin Ha suspends an inverted garden overhead at the Notre Dame plaza in the old city center of Annecy, France. The Living Pavilion employs a modular system of dairy crates as the framework for growing a planted surface on the underside of a three-sided open wooden structure. The modular design allows the plants to continue growing elsewhere after the pavilion has been disassembled, and for the pavilion to be regenerated in future years.
Behin Ha was invited by Bonlieu Scène nationale Annecy to reinterpret their 2010 installation “Living Pavilion” on Governors Island in New York for the 2019 Annecy Paysages festival. Like the original, the installation in Annecy employs plastic dairy crates to support plants overhead. The Liriope plants are first cultivated in the crates in the upright position.
The planted crates are then installed upside-down at the Pavilion, and removed at the end of the summer season to be cultivated in a suitable environment (and right-side-up) in anticipation of the next season. Thus the modular design of the plantings allows regeneration of the pavilion from year-to-year, and at different locations.
While the exterior shape of the pavilion recalls the hipped and gabled roof forms of the historic buildings of Annecy, the planted interior creates an unexpected suspended garden within the hardscape of the old city center. The garden of hanging shade-tolerant plants provides an environment maintained at a cooler temperature through a combination of shading and evapotranspiration.
The geometric form of the pavilion – three sides of a cube tilted to contact the ground at three foundation points and warped slightly to elevate the structure – belies the organic nature of the experience within. The inverted lawn at the interior engages visitors and invites them to reconsider notions of nature within the context of the man-made.