Born in Spain, the landscaper Fernando Caruncho is a worldwide reference. Profoundly marked by the Andalusian landscape of his childhood days, Caruncho, through an internal creative process, he came to integrate those sensory memories with the Greco-Roman world he discovered as a Philosophy student.
The timelessness of the classics and the beauty created by reason and proportion distinguish his work, heavily influenced by many formal gardens – namely those in Córdova and Granada, Vaux-le Vicomte (Paris), the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, and the Zen gardens of Ryoan – Ji in Kyoto.
The timeless principles espoused by Fernando Caruncho, as well as the serene, in an almost meditative way in which his conceptions highlight the dormant nature of each place, made him an obvious choice to become this project’s “gardener”, as he likes to call himself.
Visitors will be able to go out and discover the secrets, the views, the built heritage, the stories, the people and the traditions of one of the country’s oldest and best-preserved towns, all through its gardens.
The “gardener”, as he calls himself, is nowadays one of the most important names in landscape architecture around the world, and he carries Santar in his heart.
The work of this landscaper features three essential elements: geometry, light, and water.
Regarding geometry – possibly the earliest rational way of expressing knowledge and establishing a rapport between mankind and the transcendent – Fernando Caruncho wrote: “The gardener, just like the sailor or the builder, has always had to know geometry, since without it he wouldn’t be able to measure the space where he creates his dreams.”
For this reason, the creation of a grid – as a structuring element in the design of his gardens – is fundamental “not as an element for limiting or containing, but as a basis for initiating the conversation between artist and space.”
The narrative of the visit is determined by three essential elements: geometry, light, and water, endowing it with unmatched genius.
After the grid has been created, and while never losing sight of the geometric matrix. he interrelates the three components of any garden (mineral, vegetal, and liquid), keeping proportion, scale, and volume as his main focus.
Geometry, will have to act as the receptacle of light, because “making a garden means controlling light and altering the perception of space.”
As for water – certainly under the influence of Islamic tradition, ever present in the Moorish gardens of his native Andalusia – it plays a central role in his gardens, at all levels - symbolical, aesthetical, sensory and functional.
For Caruncho, the third element – light – is fundamental since, in his viewpoint, designing a garden means controlling the light, and by those means “altering the perception of space”. The geometric forms he designs end up working as “receptacles for light”.
His creative process comprises three steps: physical contact with the space to be worked on, preparatory drawings after the first visit, and the construction of a model.
In the first step, by getting in touch with the topography, surrounding landscape, vegetation, architecture, sky colours, etc., Caruncho dives into the spirit of the place. After that, countless drawings are needed to move from dream to reality. At last, with the support of his team, he develops a 3-dimensional model – usually on a 1/250 scale – where everything he envisioned is materialized.
Fernando Caruncho was awarded with the SGD LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, in 2017, by the Society of Gardens Designers.
Constructing the model - which eventually becomes a work of art on its own - is a fundamental exercise for this landscape architect: it allows him to preview, to adjust reflections, aesthetical balance, shading, water points, and connections to buildings.
In the case of Santar, an elliptical model on a 1/250 scale was made, measuring 4.20 by 2.44 metres. As in previous works, the model is not restrained to the gardens Caruncho will work on. It encompasses the whole town and the surrounding vine landscape, and thus communicates the cultural anthropic force of the place.
Always attentive and respectful towards pre-existing realities, Fernando Caruncho used the ellipse due to the presence of this form in the two structuring elements of the gardens of the Santar houses: the tank and the lake, two Baroque elements from the 18th century.