But We Have To Cultivate Our Garden

Gabor Stark, senior lecturer and M.ARCH convener at CSA, has been appointed by The Land Trust to work on the realisation of an archaeological shelter and communal gardening area at the West Wing Battery of Fort Burgoyne in Dover.

The project motto is borrowed from the last sentence of Voltaire’s novel Candide (1759). Having travelled the “best of all possible worlds”, only to encounter an endless array of disasters, wars and other human follies, the hero famously recommends horticultural care as an antidote to ideological doctrines and as a prescription for a contended and fulfilled life. “That is well put, replied Candide, but we have to cultivate our garden”

Gabor’s project adopts Candide’s advice and proposes to cultivate Fort Burgoyne’s West Wing Battery as “our Garden”. The project aims to contribute to the ongoing transformation of the 19th Century land front fort into a communal and inclusive recreational place through the acts of horticultural and civic care. The garden motif that leads through the proposal is inspired by the herb and pleasure garden ideas that were developed during the “Explorers” community engagement programme by Dover Arts Development & Charles Holland Architects; and the historical anecdote of one Connaught Barracks commanding officer who is said to have had a private garden on the site.

In collaboration with Lee Evans Partnership, the heritage and conservation architects for the Ancient Scheduled Monument, Gabor will now develop his proposal for the north-western corner of the West Wing’s outer rampart. The structure combines the protection and interpretation of the archaeological remains of a 1940’s building – concrete blocks, paving slabs, corrugated iron sheeting and a weapon pit – with the provision of a new viewing, seating and communal gardening area. To the right, a few images and an animated stratigraphic drawing showing the superposition of the historic artefacts and the new layers of the grill-like steel structure, benches and raised planters.

Gabor will also cooperate with Dover Arts Development on the orchestration of public events to continue the art led community engagement and placemaking process at Fort Burgoyne. The aim is to involve the pupils, their parents and teachers of the nearby Guston Church of England Primary School as well as other Dovorian “Garden Guardians” in the long-term management and maintenance of the communal garden space.

Further links