12 December 2010

Suzhou - Master of Nets Garden 蘇州 - 網師園

Our first day at Suzhou was greeted by Master of Nets Garden.  I had this fascination about the naming... what kind of master is Master of Nets?

The garden was originally named "Fisherman's Retreat" - the owner of the garden who was hinting a lifestyle of peace and subtlety with the metaphor of fishing, nicknamed himself "Master of Nets" hence the naming of the garden.  It was built in 1140 in Southern Song Dynasty, and inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997.

The garden is small in scale but delicately composed.  A irregularly shaped pond is the centre of its layout, with pavilions and gardens arranged seemingly spontaneously around.  There are layers beyond layers of scenes designed and constructed over hundreds of years; with a lot of architectural elements but without cluttering the scenery.

central pond of irregular shape, hinting the power of nature and boundlessness of water

irreugularity of the water edge is to stimulate imagination, and to play on man-made vs nature. truth is, after hundreds of years, the intention is to design how the garden would grow into....the garden is still being formed, it is a living thing.

each wall in the garden has a face permanently in sun, the other permanently in shade; the face in sun plays with shadow and object dimension, the face in shade plays with lack of depth and painting-like compositional quality

one of the entry gardens, with layering of rockery and vegetation of different density

garden niche next to entry with the beginning of the large pond. This serves as water level control and has the smallest miniature bridge in all of Suzhou over it

Later on we will be dissecting the gardens and their design elements - it is mind boggling!

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