Hortus Conclusus/Breeze of Air

Hortus Conclusus / Breeze of AIR, a co-production of Witte de With and AIR (Architecture International Rotterdam), explores the significance of the enclosed garden (hortus conclusus) for the contemporary city.

The Rotterdam humanist Desiderius Erasmus viewed the enclosed garden as the proper medium for depth and contemplation. These values are increasingly important in a contemporary urban development in which people strive for more green and resting places within the complex urban fabric. In Hortus Conclusus, visual artists and designers from various landscaping traditions focus on the enclosed garden as typology and idea.

Witte de With invited eight Dutch and foreign artists to create works that were inspired by the Erasmian conceptualization of the hortus conclusus:

Zeger Reyers (NL) shows mushroom sculptures grown in Witte de With’s basement. Elmgreen and Dragset (DK; N) exhibit their design for a pavilion in a local rose garden rejected by the city of Rotterdam. Dennis Adams (USA) reproduces a highly contested Rotterdam area for street prostitution in the form of a playground, Teresita Fernández (USA) designs a dazzling green oasis, Fiona Raby and Anthony Dunne (UK) create a room which makes radiation visible.

A number of art works will be exhibited outside of Witte de With. A labyrinth of hive-like screens and organic forms by Cristina Iglesias (E) is on view at a defunct travel agency. A small garden island designed by Maura Biava (I) for the imaginary character Iride, and with an email connection to Witte de With, floats in the harbor. The work ‘Two Trees’ by Cildo Meireles (Br) will be partly on view in Witte de With and partly on a square nearby.

AIR (Architecture International Rotterdam) asked nine designers from the occidental and oriental gardening traditions to create innovative designs for nine locations in Rotterdam:

An Erasmian garden of the twenty-first century in the expansion of Arboretum Trompenburg by Adriaan Geuze (NL) founder of West 8.

A sublime museum garden for garden art in the inner courtyard of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen by Charles Correa (IND).

A concealed, green place of repose and contemplation, a quiet area in public space on the roof of the workshop building Las Palmas on Wilhelminapier in the Southern Tip/Kop van Zuid by Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa (JPN).

A safe idyll of vulnerable flowers and plants for individual enjoyment in the city gardens in the Rotterdam City centre, the Lijnbaan gardens at Joost Banckertplaats and Jan Evertsenplaats by Georges Hargreaves (USA).

The public promenade from the centre along the gardens, Museumpark and The Park on the Maas by Georges Descombes (CH).

The internationally populated open-air living room of the city, with an open-plan kitchen of barbecue tables in Valkeniersweide in Vreewijk adjacent to Zuiderpark by Kamel Louafi (AR/D).

The abundant green space of Spinozapark in the centre of the post-war district Lombardijen reduced to its essential character: one small, precious and special garden by Piet Oudolf (NL).

The common neighbourhood garden on or next to the future Hofplein flyover in the Agniese neighbourhood by Gross.Max. (UK).

An investigation to the agenda of semi-public space for the future Central Station of Rotterdam by Atelier Quadrat (NL).


  • Dennis Adams, Atelier Quadrat, Maura Biava, Charles Correa, Georges Descombes, Anthony Dunne, Fiona Raby, Gross.Max, Teresita Fernández, George Hargreaves, Cristina Iglesias, Kamel Louafi, Cildo Meireles, Piet Oudolf, SANAA, Ken Worpole