Inspired by the Dan Kiley landscape at Eero Saarinen’s iconic Miller House and Garden, in particular the dense hedgerow of Arbor Vitae that make up the perimeter, Into the Hedge playfully re-interprets elements of the modernist landscape as an interactive environment.
As one of the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize recipients of the second edition of Exhibit Columbus, SO – IL took on the preservation effort at the Miller House and Garden and turned it into a temporary landmark for play in the city of Columbus, Indiana. The Arbor Vitae hedgerow at the Miller Garden is a modern icon of landscape and architecture. While the glass walls of Saarinen’s Miller House disappear – erasing the boundary between inside and outside – the densely planted hedgerow on the perimeter defines a hard edge to the site between the streets and the private grounds of the Miller residence.
The 70-year-old Arbor Vitae trees are due to be replaced. It was an opportunity for a project to create a different and more engaging relationship with this modern icon. In partnership with the Miller House and Garden, SO – IL procured 130 living Arbor Vitae trees and placed them in a large hammock structure on the lawn of the Bartholomew County Courthouse.
After the exhibition the trees can be permanently planted in the garden, making a direct link between the installation’s original architectural inspiration and a contribution to the stewardship of one of Columbus, Indiana’s seven National Historic Landmarks. The over-sized hammock is made by hand with nylon webbing – its color is taken from the color palette Alexander Girard developed for the dining chairs at the Miller House.
Through a partnership with Indianapolis’ People for Urban Progress, the net will go on to become a series of handbags and totes or even beach bags. For the other components of the installation simple off-the-shelf agricultural and construction materials were used to ensure that everything could have a life afterward.
The gabions, mulch, limestone, and stakes that comprise the planters and central pathway will all be recycled into local infrastructure projects. Committed to taking a critical approach to preservation and material use, “Into the Hedge,” temporarily re-organizes the elements of local construction and landscape as well as recognizable modern architecture into a memorable experience and a new landmark.