Piet Vollaard – Nature-Culture Fusion, the work of Louis Le Roy
- Title: Piet Vollaard – Nature-Culture Fusion, the work of Louis Le Roy
- Author: Piet Vollaard
- Date: 30.05
- Tags: community, environment, lecture, urbanism
Since the 1970’s the Dutch artist/gardener/philosopher Louis Le Roy was one of the main protagonists in the so-called ‘wild gardening’ movement, which advocated the ‘natural’ growth of the garden. Although this movement was influential, it is not what makes his work relevant for present day city development. Far more interesting in my opinion are his ideas - and his practice – on time-based development and the fusion of nature and culture.
A key project is the Ecocathedral on which he has been working for more than thirty years. Started out as a plot of land of a few hectares in the north of the Netherlands on which nature was allowed to get its course, after a few years he let the city drop truckloads of refuse of paving stones and bricks. With this material he stared building structures - all alone, all by hand - in-between the developing natural growth. This was done without a general plan, just by improvisation. After building and growing has been going on for many years a fascinating ‘jungle’ interspersed with ‘maya-like’ structures has developed.
In my opinion the work of Le Roy is very relevant for all these bottom up participatory projects we see around today. His eco cathedral as an ongoing project of nature-culture fusion can be seen as a metaphor for any free and evolutionary spatial project, the city as a whole included. His work is connected to Situationist notions and to Constants New Babylon, it is an ecological project since it involves nature, but Le Roy himself always stipulates that it is not about sustainability, but about culture, about tapping into the reservoir of ‘free creativity’ as he calls it of the people. Besides his work on the Ecocathedral, Le Roy was in de 70’s and 80’s involved in some of the earliest participatory projects in The Netherlands, France And Germany. Those in The Netherlands are still ongoing. This in itself is remarkable.
Piet Vollaard (1955) is an architect and architectural critic. He was educated at the Technical bio:University of Delft, the Netherlands. He is currently director/initiator of ArchiNed, the architecture website of the Netherlands. Publications include several architectural guides, ‘Positions’, a compendium of architectural photography in the Netherlands, and monographical studies on the Dutch architects, Herman Haan, cepezed and Frank van Klingeren. He has been teaching on several architectural schools in the Netherlands.