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The Weserbergland made of porcelain

Students of landscape architecture and environmental planning at the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences and Arts an artistic joint project in cooperation with Museum Schloss Fürstenberg and Porzellanmanufaktur Fürstenberg. The porcelain garden, part of the theme gardens at the upcoming 2023 State Garden Show in Höxter, impresses with its combination of craftsmanship and nature.

Rows of plates and platters from the Fürstenberg porcelain manufactory form an imposing image that winds its way through the themed garden on the rampart like the course of the Weser River or the mountain countryside. Under the direction of Dr. Christian Lechelt, art historian and director of the Museum Schloss Fürstenberg, the idea was developed to present the manufactory's traditional porcelain in a new context and to incorporate the students' perspective.

The inspiration for the porcelain garden arose in the context of the Museum Schloss Fürstenberg's special exhibition entitled "Lustgarten. Porcelain and Garden Art." The design was created by Niels Finke, a student of landscape architecture, who won the ideas competition under the direction of Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Rohler and Professor Ute Aufmkolk. The porcelain garden serves as an abstract representation of the natural spectacles in the Weserbergland region, with rows of plates illustrating the dynamics of the Weser River, sometimes forming a narrow stream and sometimes a rushing river. The green of moss and grasses underscores the association with the mountainous terrain along the Weser and the flora at the water's edge.

The rows of plates are arranged like a web of dominoes, leading the viewer's eyes on a fascinating journey. A total of around 1600 porcelain plates were sponsored by the Fürstenberg manufactory for the project. The special material, also known as "white gold," consists of a mixture of kaolin, quartz and feldspar and is fired at extremely high temperatures. As a result, it has exceptional temperature resistance and hardness, but at the same time appears fragile and is even translucent. This contrast is reflected in the unusual connection with the garden landscape. Although the artwork appears fragile, the plates are firmly anchored in the ground and invisibly embedded.

The construction of the porcelain garden enters the next phase

The first phase of construction was completed in the spring of 2023 by students of the department on the grounds of the theme gardens. Even snow, cold and wet conditions did not seem to affect porcelain or the hardworking students. This was followed by leveling with substrate, which was then planted with moss, grasses and white tulips.


Planning of the Porcelain Garden


The porcelain garden was planned for the Landesgartenschau, as a cooperation between the Fürstenberg manufactory and the landscape architects of the Sustainable Campus of the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences and Arts at the Höxter site, and is based on a design by Niels Finke. The student prevailed in a competition of ideas among students in the sixth semester. The jury's statement reads: "The work is judged to be very consistent in terms of design. The solution shown creates a garden-artistic image without being decoration. The porcelain is used in such a way that a new kind of garden is created with this material. Even though the work is purely two-dimensional and hardly spatially effective, the resulting image is very strong."

The budding landscape architect's design concept is based on an abstracted representation of the course of the Weser River along the Museum Schloss Fürstenberg. The flow of the Weser is represented via lines of porcelain plates in a gentle topography of a green carpet. The wavy lines vary in diameter depending on the flow dynamics. The garden space, which cannot be walked on, can thus be interpreted as the Weser River, in which parts of the Weserbergland are found as hills, entwined by flow lines and waves. The varying succession of small, medium and large plates creates the impression of waves rising and falling. "In total, the garden picture thus requires about 1,500 plates donated by the Fürstenberg manufactory to create the waves," says Professor Dr. Hans-Peter Rohler, who supervised the work together with Prof.'in Ute Aufmkolk.

The landscape of the Weserbergland will be planted with star moss in combination with carpet verbena. Topographical elevations are highlighted by tender grass gently swaying its blades in the wind, so that the wave motion is also expressed in the planting.

The porcelain garden is one of several exhibition areas of the "Green" courses of the Sustainable Campus of the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences and Arts for the Landesgartenschau in Höxter. It is part of a special exhibition of the Museum Schloss Fürstenberg on the theme of "Porcelain and Garden Art".

Between two paths running parallel to the city wall, the porcelain garden will be integrated by two wooden walkways. The area of the theme garden is about 220 square meters and will be located in the surroundings of Berliner Platz, embedded in the existing tree population.

By the time the garden opens in April, key details of the garden will have been built and tested as a 1:1 model to determine the feasibility of the design. "The landscape itself will finally be created during the non-lecture period between the winter and next summer semesters," said Professor Dr. Rohler.