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Rein-Cano -"Hybridizing Cultures"

Anti-fascist, post-modernist, provocateur and Berlin-based landscape-architect Martin Rein-Cano sits in this biophiliarts space as a powerful voice that describes landscape as an allegory for identity. "We all like to think that we are rooted in something" he suggests.

On the world stage of contemporary culture Rein-Cano captures the 'Sturm und Drang' of art and nature. He has a grounding in Art History in which he richly contextualizes his ideas. He has a fearless Latin temperament that combines wit, intelligence and compassion.

His contentious critique on the fluidity and disruption of contemporary culture challenges architects and urban designers to address the fast pace of our time. There is a consciousness of the ever-changing nature of the urban environment, the growing significance of cultural symbolism and the multi-cultural complexity of modern cities.

He tackles the zeitgeist - refugee migration, dysfunction, media and connectivity, conflict and urban violence - in the rapidly changing reality, and unreality, of contemporary culture.

He shifts the conversation from one of political paranoia and the constant "drama" of global media to the highly creative, environmental design solutions of his firm Topotek 1.

The powerful, award-winning Superkilen Park in the multicultural Norrebro district of Copenhagen (a collaboration with BIG Architects and artist’s collective Superflex) is a monumental recreational space that successfully hybridizes some sixty-four cultures. It is conceptually designed to stimulate positive inter-connection and "re-creation of identity".

"When you work in a landscape, dynamism is a natural element of it. You have to work with changing uses, changing in the development of plants, things growing, the weather changing the atmosphere of the space. The 'space' is not a constant."

The 18th Century English garden is the unlikely inspiration for his post-modernist take on contemporary culture. As a model, he says, it "mixes the old and new traditions". It "breaks down borders" and has a powerful influence on the "recreation of identity".

It's an unlikely parallel that he draws between the parks of the fashionable 18th century English designer Capability Brown and the eclectic, pop-cultural surrealism of his Superkilen Park in Copenhagen, but Rein Cano is full of surprises.

The Chinese pagodas, Greek temples, Gothic ruins, American trees, rolling lawns and groves of trees that emerged in the gardens of the English aristocracy two hundred years ago were a radical departure from the formal French styled gardens. Brown lifted elements from idyllic Classicist paintings and imported exotica from every part of the newly discovered globe.

The Superkilen Park likewise mixes and matches traditions and cultural symbolism. He imports elements from each and every migrant homeland and re-contextualizes, giving each object a contemporary makeover and a clean, Danish finish.

He converts an area of gang violence with an outdoor boxing-ring for training and more orderly competition. He transposes the Burka into a glossy black octopus water slide for children. He brings red earth from Palestine, palm trees from the Middle East and knocks an Islamic Temple design into a bus shelter interlacing cultural icons and objects, cooking facilities and games into the shared community recreational space.

It's all part of his "aesthetic of conflict." According to Rein-Cano "if we incorporate difference we develop character - by repressing culture we deny the development of this character."

"Immigration" he says " is rich when it is capable of creating a hybrid of worlds - when you don't have to choose, when you can be all of it."

Rein-Cano articulated his ideas at the Melbourne Australian Landscape Conference in Melbourne in 2015 and more recently at reSITE 2016 5th International Conference in Prague on “Cities in Migration.” This You Tube video is poor in quality but captures the personality of Rein-Cano, his voice and style.

Words. JOMO Jo Moulton for

Date: Jan 2018

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