Article by Rose Buchanan Aqua Soccer and Dymaxion Golf, by Topotek1, in Hamburg, Germany The International Garden Show is held every 10 years and features the world’s largest display of plants and flowers. Each selected venue chooses a specific theme and uses a variety of gardens and installations to echo this theme, while creating exciting landscape experiences. In 2013 the show was held in Hamburg, taking its inspiration from Jules Verne’s novel “Around the World in Eighty Days”. The result was a series of imaginative gardens, representing different themes from around the world which not only stimulated the senses in innovative ways, but also involved the users in a hands-on manner. One of these gardens was Garden 73 which featured two temporary installation by Topotek1; Aqua Soccer and Dymaxion Golf. We thought that this interesting landscape interpretation of global sports was worth exploring.
An Exploration of Soccer and Golf
Aqua Soccer The Aqua Soccer installation strove to take the ubiquitously recognized game of soccer and remove it from its conventional form. Topotek1 aimed to use the design to reinvent, reimagine and reshape the game in a manner which is recognizable yet strangely foreign. They achieved this by taking the traditional rectangular field and converting it into an angular concrete basin. This basin was then lined with elastic coating which was roughened for friction and topped up with water to form the new game of “Aqua Soccer”.
Not so Fast
Soccer is traditionally a fast-paced game, but by reinterpreting the field, Topotek1 managed to change all the simple aspects of the game into complex struggles. Straight shots into the goals became nearly impossible due the drag of the water, while the obtuse angles meant that the linear alignment of goals and players was entirely lost. This transformed the game into something which was not quite soccer, not quite swimming (the water is only ankle deep), but something entirely new and different.Users thus became part of the design as they had to use their imaginations to find new strategies to play this game with their opponents. In this way, the installation engaged directly with the public, showcasing an international pastime, but destroying logical boundaries.
A Game with Strangers
It also allowed for social interaction to occur where strangers find humour in the comic nature of the missed shots and the personal struggle to move the ball around the field. The design also strove to engage the onlookers by providing stairs which serve as viewing points for the game and doubling up as seating. The embankment adjacent to the concrete field allowed for a natural grandstand to be formed while responding to the greenery of a garden landscape. A fence was erected to the south and west side of the field, preventing the many misjudged shots from disturbing other activities in the garden.
The word “Dymaxion” was coined by the architect R. Buckminster Fuller in 1933 when he combined the words “dynamic”, “maximum” and “tension” to describe a new map that he had developed. This Dymaxion Planet Map solved the issue of the distorted globe representation by converting the round shape into polyhedrons which could be folded out as a two-dimensional map. This resulted in a portrayal of the earth, not in terms of specific continents, but as “one island earth”.
Topotek1 drew on the theme of the Garden Show to use the Dymaxion map in a unique and fun manner through the creation of a mini golf course on the map. Mini golf is in fact part of the history of Hamburg as one of the first documented mini golf courses in mainland Europe was built by Fr. Schröder in Hamburg in 1926. Thus the inclusion of this sport in the garden referred not only to a global pastime, but to a unique characteristic of the city. This game was then transformed from the traditional green-carpeted mini courses into an undulating black surface which merges the various holes into one game.The course was in the form of folded triangles which were constructed of strengthened light-weight concrete slits, allowing the map to hover above the garden area while referencing Fuller’s original paper map. These triangles also allowed for water traps to be formed, creating a new form for the game. The outlines of the countries were painted in thick white lines and users could “conquer” the land through sinking their golf balls. These two interpretations of traditional games provide us with an interesting take on outdoor recreation and the relationship between the landscape and its users. By reinterpreting the familiar, Topotek1 managed to make a statement on global sameness, inviting users to re-establish the fundamental “rules” behind the games. They achieved this in a manner which is both visually pleasing and interactive without being gimmicky. These sort of installations push the boundaries of design and hey – who doesn’t want to play a little mini golf and splash around with a ball in summer?
Full Project Credits For Topotek1 :
Project Name: Aqua Soccer and Dymaxion Golf Landscape Architect: Topotek1 Location: Hamburg Date of Competition: 2013 Recommended Reading:
- Becoming an Urban Planner: A Guide to Careers in Planning and Urban Design by Michael Bayer
- Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature by Douglas Farrs
Article by Rose BuchananPublished in