Olivia Marra

Olivia Marra earned her diploma from the Faculty of Architecture, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (2009) and her M.Arch from The Berlage Institute (2013) with the thesis Housing Contemporary Forms of Life: A Project for Tehran. She has worked with several offices in Rio and Paris before starting her doctoral search at the AA.



Garden as Political Form: From Archetype to Project

Supervisors: Dr Pier Vittorio Aureli, Dr Mark Campbell

This thesis aims to contribute to the broad discussion on whether and how architectural form can give spatial legibility to an idea of living together. Hence the project is to debate that through the reconsideration of the garden as an archetype of collective enclosure and, henceforth, a spatial device with which alternative rules of urban coexistence may be recognized and practiced. Despite the immense bibliography on this object, the political aspects of garden architecture are not sufficiently addressed. Especially, with the successful imagery of ‘green space’, anything vaguely planted may be named as a garden. The ubiquity of the term makes it almost impossible to define and, thus, to question the object. To an extent that today, gardens are hardly ever distinguishable from other planted enclosures (such as parks). All that suggests the occurrence of a problematic loss of legibility of the former as a paradigmatic form of appropriation and distribution of land and social relations. Through which, in fact, one may also understand how the city itself is mostly constructed. For instance, every element involved with the architecture of a garden mediates both technical and symbolical reasons. The inclusions of exotic soils, plants and botanical craftsmanship are not innocent. Rather, they are often identified with dominant mentalities, geopolitics and urban form. These hypotheses will be enquired through three singular events, tracing how the archetype is transformed with different projects with the city. Each chapter will be used as springboard for a design strategy: I. Archetypical Hortus conclusus as idea of settlement: The Cistercian cloister & the Persian chaharbagh 1. Paradise is here and now Hortus conclusus and the possibility of common space (A protocol for Tehranian plot-grids) II. Monumental Villa-garden as analogical reconstruction of the city: Six suburban villas in Rome (1503-81) 2. Sleep, love & fight! Villa-gardens to stop, lay and behold (A policy for Roman peripheries) III. Pastoral Kitchen-garden as disciplinary tool: Allotments in England, Germany and US 3. How to live everyday together Kitchen-gardens for homes without kitchens (A practice for any town)