Interview

Enzo Enea

Swiss landscape architect, Enzo Enea, has designed more than 1,000 gardens for hotels, spas and museums, as well as privately for the Queen of Bahrain and Prince Charles. He talks to Kath Hudson about saving trees, creating outdoor rooms and working with Zaha Hadid


Read on turning pages | Download PDF | sign up to CLAD

What inspired you to become a landscape architect?
My love of nature began as a child, when I spent summers at my grandfather’s farm in Italy. I used to help him build stone fountains for the garden, which was the start of a life-long appreciation for craftwork and high quality materials. My father went into stone masonry work, and I took over his garden ornament business before becoming a landscape architect.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
It’s a beautiful life: for me it’s not working, just living! I love working in diverse climate zones and facing new challenges. We might be building a new pond, working within an existing river ecosystem or bringing greenery to a city.

What is your signature approach to landscape architecture?
I create rooms outdoors to use and live in as well as enhancing the microclimate and complementing the surrounding architecture. The architecture is like the handwriting of the architect, and it’s important for me to read the site and integrate the outdoor space with the building.

The site tells you what to do. Sometimes it’s about creating a filter with trees to reduce pollution; sometimes it’s a filter for privacy from the neighbours. Sometimes filters aren’t required at all because it’s the open countryside, so other things are needed like the creation of ha-has or opening up or framing views of the surroundings. Sociology and functionality are the two most important aspects when we design – how an individual lives and interacts.

You have created the world’s only Tree Museum. How did you start collecting trees?
I started saving trees which were being cut down on construction sites about 20 years ago, and it became a passion of mine. It is very difficult to transplant mature trees. They need to be trimmed properly and irrigated immediately; otherwise they’ll die. Transporting these trees is also difficult; sometimes we have to use helicopters.

We found land at a convent by Lake Zurich to house the collection, and now the museum is open to the public, welcoming 30,000 to 40,000 visitors a year. I wanted to show people what a tree really is and help them to understand what trees mean to us. At the museum, trees are appreciated as objects; each tree is set against a block of sandstone, and the space is complemented by contemporary sculptures by renowned artists. The museum combines landscape, botany, art, architecture and design. We add two or three trees a year; each has its own unique story, and I love them all.

You’re currently working on the One Thousand Museum in Miami, what was your approach?
This is a very interesting project with the gardens facing very futuristic architecture by Zaha Hadid. It was also important to integrate the site with the museum and Miami Bay. We are using mangrove trees, coconut palms and grasses to create outdoor rooms which have a feeling of privacy as well as a sense of escape. The building has lots of glass which gives back heat, so we are integrating canopies of trees to provide shade.

It was exciting working with Zaha. She was very interesting, and I was proud to work with such a great architect on one of her last projects. The One Thousand Museum is going to be a very compelling project.

Tell us about the Fasano Shore Club in Miami
We have worked with the Brazilian architect, Isay Weinfeld, on this project, which is an update of the beachfront property in the re-emerging historic district of Miami Beach with the creation of 75 luxury apartments and hotel suites, a fitness centre, spa, restaurants and beachside pools with cabanas.

There is an existing beautiful old pool, and we have plans to build an additional 70m pool which will be divided so that every person has the feeling of being in their own, private pool. Natural palms will surround it and frame the architecture of the pavilion. There will be different scales and heights within the landscape. Trees are being used to create privacy within a very tropical environment along with various palm trees, mangroves and lush underplanting. It will give the feeling of air and space with clearly-defined outside rooms.

How did you approach the Lanserhof Tegernsee medical spa project?
This was a challenging project. We needed to meet the functional needs of a multiple award-winning medical spa and integrate the spa within the beautiful landscape of the Tegernsee mountains in Germany and with Christoph Ingenhoven’s architecture, while linking the site with the nearby golf course and golf hotel. [See interview with Christoph Ingenhoven on p80].
Central to our design is the lush atrium, designed with a combination of yew hedges shaped like waves, large Scotch pines and lots of high grasses which give privacy to the treatment rooms as well as tie the site with the surrounding landscape. We used pines, oaks, yews, beech trees, grasses and hydrangeas. We wanted to use as little planting materials as possible so that we didn’t detract from the view; the planting was just to provide a frame and a microclimate. We created a Zen-like atmosphere where guests can enjoy the serene outdoor environment. As we also helped in choosing the materials for the spa, there’s a real integration between the outdoors and interior.

The client chose a strong architect, and he chose us because of our understanding of places. They believed we could work well together and create a unique atmosphere reflecting the beautiful environment of the German Alps. It was a challenging project because we planned and built in 18 months, but we’re very proud of the building and environment which we helped to create. It is an interesting integration of landscape and architecture. The spa is 99 percent booked all year-round, and guests from all over the world are enjoying our architecture.

What is the Genesis resort and when will it open?
This is a new urban resort in Beijing. The first phase opened last year, the hotel opened in September 2017 and the museum will open in 2018. This new complex is set to create a new way of living: all about interacting with art, nature and architecture, which is a new concept in China. We wanted to stay true to our client’s idea of developing a holistic project which would touch and transform society through art, design and, most importantly, nature – all beliefs we share in our daily practice as landscape architects.

Three different types of architecture have been used for the office towers, the Bulgari Hotel and the Genesis Art Foundation, designed by Tadao Ando. In the same fashion, the outdoor spaces were carefully designed to enhance the experiences of each one of the programmes, including the public realm with the riverside promenade and amphitheater.

KPF designed the office towers, Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel designed the Bulgari Hotel, and we had the task of bringing this all together by embracing and interacting with the three diverse buildings and creating privacy where the client or program required it.

The landscape architecture was inspired by traditional Chinese gardens and the contemporary Italian architecture of the hotel. There were many challenges and restrictions, so we couldn’t create a very dense forest because there wasn’t enough space, but we obtained permission to transplant mature pine trees from the forest and to build up a rafter of trees with winding and sculptural shapes in order to give the sensation of usable, outdoor rooms to read, speak, drink tea and socialise in. These native pine trees have become living sculptures that tie the entire complex together.

I wanted to stay true to the idea of developing a holistic project which could incorporate art, design and nature, and of bringing these different types of architecture together in one park. I’m really proud of how people are using it – it’s buzzing from morning until night. People meet at the library, go to the park and attend speeches about art and culture. It’s a cultural project which really works and will improve the quality of life.

ABOUT ENZO ENEA

• After training as an industrial designer, Enzo Enea studied landscape architecture in London and then travelled to Brazil and Hawaii where he designed his first major landscape project for a Sheraton hotel

• Enea has received numerous gold and silver awards at the Giardina show in Basel and Zurich, and in 1998 he was the winner of the newcomer award at the Chelsea Flower Show

• Enea has a team of 250 employees which incorporates all the skills needed to plan and build a garden, including carpenters, gardeners, landscape architects, stonemasons and metal-workers

• Projects underway include: The Peninsula Hotel in Istanbul; Fasano Shore Club, Miami; the Zaha Hadid-designed One Thousand Museum, Miami; Bulgari Hotel Tokyo; Park Grove in Miami; the Genesis resort in Beijing; and Oaks Prague, a five star boutique hotel designed by Richard Meier in Prague

Enea has offices in New York, Zurich, Miami and Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland
Enea has offices in New York, Zurich, Miami and Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland
Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: GOCO Hospitality
As a complete wellness consulting and management firm specialising in designing, developing and operating wellness-based projects, GOCO Hospitality o ers a turnkey solution for each phase of development.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
The architect established his own sports design firm, MEIS, in 2007
Meis has helped design some of the world’s most successful stadiums
"It’s one of the tragedies of the US that so many of our stadiums get replaced after 20 years"

The Everton and AS Roma stadium architect talks through the challenges and rewards of sports facility design

Restoration work on Nanshufang, one of the most architecturally impressive buildings
"This carefully choreographed interplay of room and courtyard extends through all scales of the masterplan"

The desire to save a threatened forest and historic buildings in China led to a truly unique resort, We speak to the people that made it happen

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
British materials and the history of London served as inspiration for the design
Mexican architect Frida Escobedo runs a practice in Mexico City
"I hope visitors will find a space in which the passage of time feels a bit hazy — fun yet meditative"

Creating the Serpentine Pavilion

Visitors will be able to explore a variety of different environments
"Part museum exhibition and part immersive environment, the project invites visitors to explore Snarkitecture’s work"

Reimagining the traditional home

features
French-Brazilian architect Elizabeth de Portzamparc designed the museum
"This museum is the smallest public facility I’ve worked on, but the most symbolic"

On her futuristic new museum

Martha Schwartz: The landscape architect on bagels, climate change and upsetting the status quo
Martha Schwartz
"No one is taking the issue of climate change seriously. Some bad things will have to happen before there is a change"

The outspoken landscape architect on climate change, bagels and being controversial

UNSense aims to integrate technologies into the built environment
Ben van Berkel believes practices will all become ‘arch tech’ firms
"We’re living in the age of the iPhone, yet the architecture and construction industries are still in the Walkman phase"

On the launch of his tech startup

cladkit product news
Ben van Berkel launches UNSense startup to boost health and wellbeing in built environments
Kim Megson
Dutch architect Ben van Berkel and his design firm UNStudio have launched a tech startup to “improve the health and ...
London's new pollution-eating living wall has air purifying power of 275 trees
CityTree is a living wall that reduces particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in the air by 30 per cent
Lauren Heath-Jones
The Crown Estate, a London-based commercial real estate company, has partnered with Westminster City Council and cleantech specialist Evergen Systems ...
Kvorning wins contest to design aquaculture exhibit at Norway's Coastal Museum
The exhibition explores the history of Norway's fish-farming industry dating back to 1970
Lauren Heath-Jones
Copenhagen-based design studio Kvorning Design and Norwegian advertising agency Vindfang have won a competition, organised by Museums in Sør Trøndelag ...
cladkit product news
Dornbracht debuts Rainmoon wellness shower concept at  Salone del Mobile
Rainmoon is a multi-sensory wellness experience designed to revitalise and reinvigorate the user
Lauren Heath-Jones
Dornbracht, a German-based luxury bathroom specialist, has launched an innovative new shower experience, Rainmoon. Slated as the next generation of ...
Parkside opens flagship Chelsea showroom
The showroom is designed to inspire its clients
Lauren Heath-Jones
Parkside, a designer of contemporary porcelain and ceramic tiles, has opened its first showroom in the UK. Located in Chelsea ...
Carlo Ratti's 'wonder wall' robot could become reality with kickstarter campaign
Unveiled at Milan Design Week, as part of Ratti's Living Nature installation, the Scribit is the result of Ratti's ongoing investigation into and development of writing machines
Lauren Heath-Jones
Carlo Ratti Associatti has developed an intelligent robot capable of writing and drawing on vertical surfaces. Called Scribit, the device ...
cladkit product news
Empex Watertoys partners with Singapore architecture firm on new splash park
Buds is a new splash park that caters to children aged 12 and under
Lauren Heath-Jones
Empex Watertoys has partnered with Singapore landscape architecture firm Playpoint Singapore Pte to create Buds, an exciting new splash park ...
Bright Buildings to create UK's first 'open sky' swimming pool
Bright Buildings will create the retractable roof for the Open Sky pool at Ivybridge Leisure Centre
Lauren Heath-Jones
Leisure operator Fusion Lifestyle has announced that it will invest millions of pounds over the course of the next three ...