Erik Dhont designs the wild garden of Geneva

Erik Dhont goes wild in a “deconstructed” Geneva garden

This Geneva garden is a fiery balance between art, architecture and nature, courtesy of Belgian landscape architect Erik Dhont for Karin Handlbauer, founder of Galerie Mezzanin

Designed to complement a renovated and enlarged 1920s wooden chalet in the Swiss countryside, this lush Geneva garden is the work of Belgian landscape architect Erik Dhont. Skilled at blending nature and architecture to produce artistic, fluid and rich compositions, Dhont, based in Brussels, created this ecological design for Karin Handlbauer, founder of Galerie Mezzanin, whom he first met “by an after -sunny midday in Geneva during a dinner under the oak trees’. Rightly so, nature has become a recurring theme in their relationship and this garden project.

Working within the context of the contemporary addition designed by Frey Architects to the structure of the existing chalet, Dhont composed an arrangement that promotes “a new spirit of art, nature and balance”. About two-thirds of the 1.86-acre garden is dedicated to greenery and “reforestation,” including green, rolling countryside and ponds to attract wildlife.

The design includes a Vals stone swimming pool

One of Handlbauer’s wishes for the garden was to make it feel “natural and easy going,” and Dhont obliged. The result is a seemingly ‘unstructured’ garden that combines an organic feel with the right elements and proportions to meet a range of functions – from swimming to entertainment and relaxation. “Architectural gardens serve to frame the landscape, but here we have worked differently. Void is architecture, the hard surfaces we use are like spaceships floating in nature, ”explains Dhont. He cites designers such as British gardener Russell Page and Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa as sources of inspiration.

Oak, pine, black alder, and evergreen shrubs, such as yew and holly, are key parts of the garden. Accents are created by cherry trees, buckthorn alders, lilacs, checkerboards and charms. A sculpture by artist Gianni Motti sits among the plants. A swimming pool that Dhont designed with Vals Stone Architects, alongside a local granite terrace, completes the design, adding an element of cooling water to the soft, green landscape. §

The garden is defined by unstructured, hilly terrain


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