Located in a central position in the Mediterranean Sea, the island of Sicily has been characterized as a territory of encounter, hybridization and constant evolution in which countless biological dynamics and cultural movements have taken place throughout history.

On the northeast coast of the island, between the Etna volcano and the Ionian Sea, a unique landscape develops as a biological point of reference in the Mediterranean scenario, framing an exceptional ecosystem influenced by a subtropical climate in which various plant species coexist in a productive land that is constantly nourished by black volcanic sand scattered by the eruptions of Etna.

It is in this background that Sensory Landscapes intervention has been conceived. Sensory Landscapes pays homage to this particular landscape through a walkable garden that brings together a collection of plants that represent the heritage of the Mediterranean culture. In this way, the project is proposed as an interactive and experiential space that appeals to different senses – touch, smell, sight and taste – and enhances the perception of the landscape through sensitive dialogues, connecting the natural elements that identify the territory into experiences: scents, textures, flavors, sounds, scenes.

Along the garden, a continuous thread links visitors and sensory experiences. With this approach, Sensory Landscapes connects a series of scenarios with perceptions, creating a multi-layered garden across different tangible and intangible landscapes – scentscapes (aromatic plants), landscapes of taste (edible plants), hapticscapes (texture plants) and visual landscapes.

The project is also inspired from the culture of container gardening, the Mediterranean practice of growing plants in pots placed by neighbors in urban and outdoor domestic spaces such as courtyards, balconies, terraces, squares or sidewalks.

Participatory garden: The project proposes public participation becoming a collective device enriched by the interaction of visitors, offering different ways of engagement: a space for dialogue, dissemination and exchanging. An open space to develop diverse activities – drawing, writing, reading, eating. The installation also promotes the act of sharing plants as a participatory experience, offering the possibility for visitors to bring their own plant, connecting them through the immediacy of sharing.

Children-Lab: The garden is complemented by the Children-Lab, a space for knowledge and plant growing where children generate their own orchards from local seeds. The space proposes ludic and didactic activities based on experiential learning where they discover and share notions of their own territory in connection to natural cycles, local food practices and farming process – seeding, sowing and harvesting.

The system: As an interactive display-system that has the capacity for constant transformation, the installation creates different types of scenarios. The system can be modified by changing its layout; grow or decrease along the site generating different spaces and activities.

Sensory Landscapes is taking part of The Biennial of the Mediterranean Garden, an event that rediscovers the Mediterranean garden to promote environmental culture through art, design, literature and music. The Biennial takes place in the Radicepura Botanical Park, a five-hectare horticultural park which is home to more than 3,000 botanical species and focuses on different areas related to botanical education, itineraries or research of the Mediterranean flora.

Project details

Design: X-STUDIO Ivan Juarez
Project Location: Radicepura Botanical Park, Giarre, Italy
Typology: Ephemeral garden
Built: 2021
Event: Radicepura Garden Festival | Biennale del Giardino Mediterraneo
Curator: Antonio Perazzi
Festival´s production director: Luca Gangemi
Project design coordinator: Chiara La Rosa
Plant advisor: Franco Livoti
Project manager and production: Radicepura Team
Nursery: Piante Faro
Supporter: Fondazione Radicepura

X-STUDIO Ivan Juarez

X-STUDIO Ivan Juarez

Ivan Juarez is founder and principal of x-studio, a multidisciplinary research practice focused on exploring the relationship between art and function, integrating the disciplines of architecture, landscape, public design, environmental and public art. Through his practice he has produced a series of projects that explore the natural and built environment from a cross-disciplinary approach. A series of works conceived in diverse contexts and scales ranging from landscape and urban interventions to architectonic spaces, from public and environmental installations to urban and landscape strategies. These works have been created in different countries of Europe (Norway, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and Portugal) North America (USA and Mexico), South America (Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina), Asia (Japan and Taiwan) and Africa (Senegal). Ivan Juarez is also the founder of Sensory Landscapes, a research lab and educational initiative which is dedicated to sensing the landscape through the conceptualization and findings of innovative methodologies for understanding the environment through sensory experiences.