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All of us at VBD are looking forward to the promise of warmer weather.  Our Hellebores are blooming, deciduous trees waking up, daffodils recovering after our recent snow, and the water levels are rising – sometimes right below our feet!   What better way to celebrate Spring than to share with you joyful news honouring our friend and fellow landscape architect, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander.  Also in anticipation of my upcoming trip to Japan we share some thoughts on a fascinating technique of ancient Eastern garden design – Miegakure – or hide and reveal. 
Welcome Spring!

Celebrating Tremendous Achievement
We are delighted to announce that our nominee, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, OC, FCSLA, FASLA, FIFLA, has been chosen to receive the first Governor General’s Medal in Landscape Architecture for her contributions to advancing the field of landscape architecture in Canada and around the globe.
Cornelia has practiced landscape architecture for more than sixty years and has played a seminal role in the evolution of modernism in the context of architecture, landscape architecture, and planning. Throughout her career, Cornelia has championed design that reflects a strong understanding and respect for cultural and environmental context. Many ideas hailed as groundbreaking today, such as the importance of exposure to nature and the creation of opportunities for social interaction formed the foundation of her design philosophy decades ago.  At 94 years old, Cornelia puts in long hours at the office, and shows boundless energy and commitment to the environment. When asked what keeps her going, she laughs and replies, “The passion for keeping the world green.”  Congratulations on a well deserved honour!
Cornelia has also recently been awarded the Margolese National Design for Living Prize which celebrates individuals that make an exceptional impact on living environments benefiting all Canadians.  Awarded by the University of British Columbia through an endowment from Leonard Herbert Margolese, it awards annually an unrestricted $50,000 prize to a Canadian who has shown extraordinary talent and dedication to making Canada a better place to live.   A dear friend and mentor of Virginia, Cornelia inspires us all.
Garden Design – Miegakure
Fowler Roof Top Garden
Miegakure, a garden design concept usually translated as ‘hide and reveal’, is originally derived from Chinese landscape paintings in which the artist creates perspective by leaving portions of the composition empty of paint and form,  thereby controlling the viewpoint of the painting’s observer.   In gardens which reference the principles of miegakure, the designer consciously controls what is visible and what is obscured from any one viewpoint in the garden.  Such choreography of place creates an immersive and often dramatic experience of the garden for the viewer.  This rhythm of hide and reveal can create anticipation as well.
For instance, in the design of Acadia Point, a rural retreat in Nova Scotia, the entry sequence to the property references clearly the principles of miegakure.  A long gravel road winds through mossy forest, views of surrounding waters are intentionally obscured.  Walking toward the house along a heavily planted and deliberately narrow path, ocean sounds and smells tantalize.  At the top of the house’s high front steps, the breezeway opens onto a stunning panorama of sea, rocks, and windswept spruce, the unexpected reveal reached.
According to Eastern philosophy, this movement though the landscape between what is obscured and what is revealed draws us deeper into harmony with the universal, elemental rhythms of life – of darkness and light, of activity and passivity.  Miegakure captures the moment of transformation from one to the other beautifully.
 Sharing Ideas
We're pleased to share a recent article on healing gardens as transformative spaces, written by Virginia in Faith and Form Magazine, and available online: Healing Gardens as Transformative Spaces: Volume 49, Issue 1 

Watch for a profile of the work of Virginia Burt Designs in an upcoming issue of Garden Design Magazine, published in the United States and available world wide. Virginia continues to present on landscape architecture widely, and has been selected to speak at the 2016 Annual Conferences of both the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects.  Her next speaking engagement will be at the Illinois Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects on June 2. The event is open to the public.
Copyright © 2016 Virginia Burt Designs, All rights reserved.


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