Balmori Associates create a temporary urban garden in the heart of Bilbao
Diana Balmori and her landscape and urban design practice Balmori Associates were invited to propose a temporary urban garden as part of the second edition of the International Garden Competition of Bilbao, Spain - Bilbao Jardín. The Garden that Climbs the Stairs is composed of running and undulating lines of different textures and colours. Its lush planting cascades down as though the garden was flowing or melting, bleeding the colours into each other. In one gesture, it narrates a story of landscape taking over and expanding over the Public Space and Architecture, therefore transforming the way that the stairs and the space is perceived and read by the user. The lines of movement are traced in curves of varying heights and lengths. Each band lifts the garden up to engage the senses. Native plantings drift through the bands, energetically expanding over the walls that constrain them. The plantings explode into a seasonal show of light, colour and scent, inviting passersby to pause and relax in the garden. The stairs are transformed into seating- a theatre from which to watch the life of the city.
It is a garden of contrasts: the contrast between native and exotic plants, between the red flowers and the green grass, between the green grass and the grey paving. In form, the garden engages the horizontal plaza with the rising vertical plane of the steps and the upright gesture of Eduardo Chillida's sculpture. Like the famous Spanish Steps in Rome, the garden is not only designed for visitors to ascend and descend, but for them to linger, and just be.