Making its first appearance in Medieval Europe, the hortus conclusus or enclosed garden captures and isolates aspects of nature and landscape in a relatively small, confined space. It makes thes aspects manageable by imposing on them its own pictorial, geometrical and spatial order.
The book opens with a historical section describing the ingredients and design concepts that made the hortus conclusus such a success.
This is followed by an in-depth study of historical examples, amongst them the Romanesque garden of the monastery of Santes Creus, the Gothic garden of the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, the patios of the Alhambra, and the giardino segreto of the Villa Capponi. Recent designs by Alexandre Chemetoff, Daniel Libeskind and Dom Hans van der Laan show how the hortus conclusus, dressed in a contemporary garb, has a part to play in the urban landscape. Just the compactness of the enclosed garden makes it so effective in places where space is a scarce commodity, as in our ever-swelling metropolises.