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stepping outside the visual landscape of the motorway in the Garden of Birds

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Saskia de Wit, sensory landscape experience,

Gardens and motorways represent inherently different ways of perceiving the landscape: while the motorway is a purely visual experience, seen through the windshield, distanced from the perceiver in his climatized cocoon, the small, tactile scale of a garden offers a multisensory experience. With motorways getting more and more separated from their landscapes, can a garden be the opportune resource to address the motorway landscape? A place that appears to be doing this is the Garden of Birds, a small circular space as the pivot point of a rest area along the A837 motorway in south-western France. Fifteen years after implementation it now appears more like a garden than might have ever been intended, providing a sensory landscape experience. Drawing and describing this situation-including its intentional and unintentional changes resulting from manmade and natural interventions and processes-as if it were a designed composition, exposes a spatial elaboration that facilitates the multisensory perception of landscape. The garden experience entices the motorist to look at the surrounding landscape with fresh eyes.

In JoLA. Journal of Landscape Architecture. Vol. 3 2016. pp. 20-31.