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Land of Scattered Seeds

Part 2 Project 2001
John Puttick
Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) London | UK
Land of Scattered Seeds (abridged).

Two brothers, Franz and Jorg, have lived on Sackstrasse at the foot of the Schlossberg all their lives. Depressed by the emptiness of their working routine and desperate to add to their income, the pair dream of becoming farmers. Utilising the only space they have available – the exterior of their apartment buildings, the brothers go into production. Franz establishes a vineyard, while Jorg grows pumpkins to refine into Kurbisol. The two maniacally compete.

Across the street live Olga and Florian, who retired form the civil service five years ago. Horrified by the vegetal chaos erupting in the area, the couple cultivate formal gardens on the façade of their building as an act of floral defence. Lola, owner of the local hairdressing salon, proves more enterprising – taking the petals shed from Franz’ vines to produce an enriching shampoo.

As time passes the area flourishes – the farmers exploit the terrain to provide irrigation, and Franz has to use all his resources to persuade other local characters (Stefan, Helga, Hermann, Hugo and Wolf) of the merits of his scheme. All the while wild plants and birds continue to invade and so the struggles of Franz, Jorg, Olga, Florian and Lola continue…

John Puttick

The student's project for the city of Graz, in Austria, was developed in response to a brief that called for the design of an urban microcosm, an architectural intervention within the city that would be extremely dense and would contain an intensive cross-section of urban activities.

His response to this programme, suggesting, as it does, an outrageous parasitic vegetal invasion of that quiet provincial town, instigated by colourful characters who wish to supplement their income by developing a semi-illicit parallel economy within a stone’s throw of the dignified Hauptplatz, is a brilliantly orchestrated series of events, starting with the growing of a vineyard and the setting up of a pumpkin farm, and followed by a whole series of other extraordinary but nevertheless quite plausible interventions. Each of these is conceived with a great sense of humour and an admirable eye for detail, both in spatial, architectural terms and in terms of the personalities of the characters invented by the author to tell his tale of urban change.

This was one of the most original projects to come out of the School last year, clearly departing, conceptually and stylistically, from all accepted norms and yet executed with great professionalism and design precision. The work was originally presented in the form of a model and as a voluminous book which has been considerably abridged to fit the format of the RIBA submission.

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