How Enzo Enea designs his extraordinary gardens

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The work is based on a pencil drawing by the Tyrolean painter Max Peintner from 1970/71: “The unbroken attraction of nature” shows a forest in the middle of a stadium – in the background a dense urban landscape with skyscrapers and smoking industrial chimneys. From trees or other nature is outside the stadium to see nothing.

Klagenfurt may still be a long way from this gloomy-looking vision. But Littmann and Peintner are concerned with something else: they want to show not only the threat of the forest with the project – which in view of the major fires in the Amazon and in Siberia has a particular relevance. They also want to set a signal against monoculture. Carinthia is indeed the Austrian state with the second most trees. But here, too, the natural mixed forest has long since been ousted.

“We want to bring about a change of heart and shake things up a bit. If there is only one tree species, pests can destroy half the forests overnight, “says Enzo Enea. The Swiss landscape architect has implemented the project “For Forest” from drawing into practice. 299 trees have been planted by him on 7,200 square meters of stadium lawns, including beech trees, larches, whitebeams, birch trees, wild pear or flower ash.

During the next two months, visitors will take a seat on the stadium grandstands and observe the discoloration of the foliage: nature as a spectacle for the senses. “If you go in every week, you will see a different forest every time,” explains the 55-year-old. Afterwards the trees are to be planted on a property between Klagenfurt and Wörthersee.

These garden landscapes were created by Enzo Enea

Already in the run-up to it hailed criticism. Politicians of the FPÖ questioned the project and complained that many trees were driven specially from Italy or Germany. “We then told them that all nurseries in the region have not been cultivating any trees they need for a mixed forest for decades. That's exactly what the problem is, “says Enzo Enea.

The Swiss is considered the star of his profession. He not only builds gardens for solvent private clients, including entrepreneurs, musicians, film producers or high nobility. His clients include Prince Charles and Tina Turner, “Beatle” George Harrison or the Queen of Bahrain. He also realizes green spaces for hotels, apartment buildings or office buildings, for which he cooperates with star architects such as Rem Koolhaas, David Chipperfield, Zaha Hadid or Bjarke Ingels.

In 2006, he opened a branch office in Miami with his office on Lake Zurich, and another in New York in 2016. Meanwhile Enea conducts a 200-strong team of landscape architects, garden engineers, architects and technical planners who work in parallel on 150 projects in different climate zones. “We have a specialty: we can move old trees. For this we have developed a technique in which we make a cut on the root ball and relatively close to the trunk, “explains Enea.

The process significantly reduces the mass of soil and root mass necessary for transport. This allows even large trees to be moved that would previously have reached logistical limits. Not only did Enea lay the foundation for the “For Forest” project in Klagenfurt, where trees about 14 meters high were used. He can also save trees that stand in the way of a construction project, for example, and so far mostly had to be felled.

Enzo Enea

The Swiss is considered the star of his profession.

(Photo: Enea GmbH)

“The wood value of an old tree is only 400 to 500 euros. That's almost nothing. But looking at the oxygen content, it takes 2000 new trees worth € 150,000 to replace a centenary tree, “Enea predicts.

Even in his gardens, the tree is always in the center. To find the right specimens, he works together with a “tree scout”. The specialist selects the trees in the climatic zones of the respective projects according to whether their proportions correspond with both the garden design and the architecture. Both are inseparable for Enea.

After training as an industrial designer, he studied landscape architecture in London. In 1993, he took over the paternal Steinmetz operation in Rapperswil-Jona on Lake Zurich, where plant trays and balustrades were made. For this he founded his own garden and landscape architecture office, with which he has since implemented more than a thousand projects.

The secret of a good garden? “Reading the Genius Loci and integrating the garden into the architecture in such a way that it works for humans. Some people want a more natural garden with more spices. Others have children and want to have a lot of play space. It's about interpreting those desires and aligning them with the location, “says Enea.

299 trees on 7,200 square meters

Enea chose red beech, larch, whitebeam, white birch, wild pear or flower ash.

(Photo: Gerhard Maurer)

In order for this to succeed, much is produced internally. Stone bowls are made to fit the dimensions of the respective plants in his workshops on Lake Zurich. Electrical engineers take care of the perfect illumination of the gardens at night. “It's almost like a theater lighting or a huge set design. You have to be specialized on that. A normal indoor lighting designer can not do that, “emphasizes the Swiss.

He also runs his own nursery at his office in Rapperswil-Jona. There he stores trees that were purchased for specific projects. Other plants serve as emergency replacements or are still awaiting their future destination. “It's a paradise here. All bird species have come since we are here. We are in the industrial area, “says the garden star on a tour of his empire.

In 2010, next to the tree nursery, he created his own tree museum on an area of ​​35,000 square meters. The first examples were copies that would normally have been trashed like the 150-year-old maple that had to make way for the expansion of the Zurich Kongresshaus. Later, rare trees were added, such as 450-year-old larches that grow in the Alps at an altitude of 2000 meters. Original pears and primal cherries, the biological precursors of today's pear and apple trees, are also part of a collection of over a thousand plants.

Like a school of sight

“All trees are from the region. It's not a botanical garden, it's not a zoo. I value that, “says Enea. Also in his projects always local plants are used. Planting olive trees in Zurich would be out of the question for him. Between the trees in the open-air museum stands a historic English and French greenhouse that Enea bought at Sotheby's. In between are sculptures by Sylvie Fleury, Elmar Trenkwalder, Manolo Valdes, Martin Kippenberger, Jürgen Drescher and Olaf Nikolai. and other artists.

The position of the works is by no means due to chance. They are oriented to specific visual axes and integrated into the context of the respective plants around them. “Creating a garden is like painting a picture for me. Only with the difference that everything is in motion. The viewer moves through this picture like a leaf floating along a river, “Enzo Enea describes his work. A garden must work for him like a school of sight: he must animate to open his eyes and let nature work on him. And that's exactly what visitors to Klagenfurt have time for in the next eight weeks.

More: Banks and churches have lost much of their influence. Their once monumental and intimidating buildings are getting more and more new features.

Agenda (t) Klagenfurt (t) Enzo Enea (t) Stadium Klagenfurt (t) Forest (t) Garden (t) Gardens (t) Landscape Architecture (t) Urban Development (t) Agriculture (t) Green Area (t) Nature Conservation (t) Environmental Protection (t) Leisure Time (t) Leisure (t) Zurich (t) Freedom Party of Austria (t) Trenkwalder International (t) Forestry

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