Memorial Garden, Taipei, Taiwan

This commission was unusual for the practice as it is their first built work in Asia. The brief was to design an English style garden as a memorial to the mother of the client on a rural site on the northern tip of the island of Taiwan. Having spent five years at school at Stowe, which boasts one of the greatest landscape gardens in Europe, Francis Terry relished the opportunity of designing a serious garden in the manner of William Kent or ‘Capability’ Brown. Visiting both the client and the site in 2011, he followed the custom he adopts with most new proposals of sitting with the clients, drawing up the design in front them, and developing these sketches over the following two days.

A drawing board, tracing paper, and drawing instruments, were delivered to his hotel room in the Grand Hotel Taipei, a building which introduced him dramatically to the possibilities of modern Asian architecture. In traditional Chinese style with massive columns painted gloss red, and beams with dragons in full colour on a vast scale, it is possibly the highest Chinese classical building in the world! Francis drew out the proposal and had a further client meeting the following day and then spent the next day drawing the revisions. On returning to England, the scheme was drawn out with help from the assistants in the office. It was all done on a very tight time scale and many ideas for the garden, such as a pergola, triumphal arch, and arcade, were tried and then abandoned.

This large architectural garden is entered through a stone gateway from which a paved path leads to a central area laid out as a parterre in the centre of which is the tomb [carved with an inscription from the Book of Hosea in the Old Testament]. On axis with this is a marble fountain based on Florentine examples. The surrounding garden is planted informally with trees, while at the edge the land slopes away dramatically to give a view of rural Taiwan. Workmen completed their work on the creation of this extensive garden and its buildings with a speed that would be envied in England!

Taken from The Practice Of Classical Architecture by Professor David Watkin, Published by Rizolli

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