IGA Berlin 2017: A Large Dose of Inspiration From the World in One Place

IGA Berlin 2017: A Large Dose of Inspiration From the World in One Place

IGA (Internationale Gärten Ausstellung) is a periodically organized International Garden Exhibition where new botanical and horticultural trends are displayed in artistic forms for the world to enjoy. There are various elements related to landscape architecture and gardening, among others, that are shown here such, as display gardens, plant exposures, gardening equipment, and furniture. To date, exhibitions have been organized in Hamburg, Dresden, Munich, Stuttgart, and Rostock, but this year’s was hosted in Berlin for the first time.

Berlin’s authorities began planning the competition in 2009. Initially the exhibition was intended to be held at Tempelhof Airport. However, the concept changed, and it was decided that the International Garden Exhibition Berlin 2017 would be held in the newly renovated “Gardens of the World” and in the Marzahn-Hellersdorf district from April 13 to October 15, 2017. The cost of the investment is estimated at around 40 million euros.

Area of the Exhibition

Example of garden arrangement. Photo credit: Wojciech Matys

The exhibition area covers about 104-hectares dedicated to everyone, including children, the elderly, and the disabled. Walking around, it is evident that the exhibitors enjoy contact with nature as the entire area is connected by paths, which form a comprehensive network.

View on the cableway and the Kienberg Hill. Photo credit: Frank Sperling

Utilizing landforms such as the local Kienberg Hill and Wuhletal Valley, it was possible to construct a cableway that serves the garden exhibition grounds. This is the first cableway of its kind in Berlin, and it was built to unify the International Garden Exhibition. There are two stations in the IGA area. One is “in the valley” and the other is at the top of the hill. A 1.5-kilometer path is located at an elevation of 25-30 meters. Thanks to the hanging gondola the exhibition can be admired from a bird’s-eye view.

“Gardens of the World” (“Gärten der Welt”)

Pergola with Bible verses in Christian garden. Photo credit: Wojciech Matys

The “Gardens of the World” comprises about one-fifth of the total area at the IGA Berlin 2017 Exhibition. It’s a place where visitors can appreciate gardens inspired from many regions of the world such as Europe, the Near East, Japan, China, and Bali in a relatively small space (21-hectare site). The English Garden opened in 2017 solely for the International Garden Exhibition Berlin as a tenth themed garden.

Balinese garden in the tropical hall. Photo credit: Wojciech Matys

Visitors can experience several international gardening cultures that are associated with peace, beauty, and happiness. The wealth of gardens demonstrates a shared aspect of human global culture and showcase garden traditions from around the world.

“International Garden Cabinets”

Thai garden cabinet “Garden of the Mind”. Photo credit: Günter Schneider

Landscape architects were selected to design individual garden cabinets in a curated process, and they are among the best. Designers from countries that they are representing traveled to Berlin in May 2015 to present their design concepts. In the small areas, there were planned elements specific to the country and in line with their culture.

Chilean garden cabinet ‘Being under the trees’. Photo credit: Wojciech Matys

There are nine gardens of about 380-square meters each that are separated by a high hornbeam hedge:

  • Australia ‘Cultivated by Fire’
  • Brazil
  • Chile ‘Being under the trees’
  • China ‘Dule Yuan’
  • Germany ‘Los Angeles Garden’
  • Great Britain ‘The Garden of Vulcan’
  • Lebanon ‘The Sunken Garden’
  • South Africa ‘African Bouquet’
  • Thailand ‘Garden of the Mind’

Chinese garden cabinet ‘Dule Yuan’. Photo credit: Lichtschwaermer

“Promenade Aqua” – Water Gardens

One of the water gardens at the promenade. Photo credit: Wojciech Matys

The “Promenade Aqua” has a meditative quality due to its location, and the water that moves in various ways. The site is complemented with aquatic plants and many sensory stimuli. At the end of the promenade rises a spectacular waterfall that is five-meters high and is accompanied by fog and a mystical rocky landscape.

Spring garden at the promenade. Photo credit: Wojciech Matys


Water-themed playground with a large wooden whale. Photo credit: Frank Sperling

There are several themed playgrounds on the exhibition site. Everything is designed to stimulate children’s imaginations. The playgrounds mainly relate to animals and nature. However, the biggest attraction is the labyrinth, as well as a water-themed playground, complete with a large wooden whale that resembles a ship and many beach-related equipment.

Wooden horses located nearby every playground. Photo credit: Dominik Butzmann

Other Features

There is also an area focusing on grave design as well as many monuments near the paths, improving the aesthetic qualities of the individual area. The IGA site also had an amphitheater and an observation tower called “clouds grove” (“wolkenhain”). Situated on Kienberg hill, its location delivers a spectacular view of Berlin (mainly eastern) and part of the cultural landscape of Brandenburg.

Observation tower called “clouds grove”. Photo credit: Dominik Butzmann

Horticultural Highlights

Green wall of herbs and vegetables. Photo credit: Wojciech Matys

Visitors can admire an ocean of colors as the result of horticultural art. Some would be considered classical design while others are more innovative. They include outdoor plant exposures, such as the rhododendron grove, dahlia garden, and rose garden as well as indoor exhibitions like the flower hall or tropical hall. There is also a woody plant collection that together with fruit trees and blooming shrubs such as clematis, hibiscus, and hydrangeas show the rich diversity of current landscape design.

Colorful flower beds of tulips and dahlias. Photo credit: Wojciech Matys

IGA Berlin 2017 is a place where many design professionals, urban farmers, hobby gardeners, and nature explorers will find a large dose of inspiration as well as recreation and relaxation. The site accurately reflects the relationship between the city, suburbs, and the urban periphery against the background of the fast-growing city of Berlin.

Example of garden arrangement. Photo credit: Wojciech Matys

Project Information

Project development and construction management: Grün Berlin
Construction period: 2014 – 2017
Opening: 13th of April 2017
Client: IGA Berlin 2017 GmbH for the Land Berlin
Design/Planning: Framework concept Geskes.Hack Landschaftsarchitekten, Berlin (
Location: Marzahn-Hellersdorf district: Gardens of the World, Kienberg and parts of the Wuhletal valley
Size: 104 hectares
Financing: IGA Berlin 2017 GmbH, Land Berlin

Lead image courtesy of IGA Berlin 2017

Published in Blog
Kamil works as research-and-teaching assistant at the Białystok University of Technology in Poland. He mainly focuses on designing a human-friendly spaces, but also highly values possibility to the sustain coexistence of man and nature.

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