Astor Court

Astor Court at the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains a small, indoor garden in the style of a traditional Chinese garden. The garden was funded by Brooke Russell Astor and was built by a group of twenty-seven engineers from The Soochow Garden Administration of the People’s Republic of China in early 1980. The gardens of Soochow (also known as Suzhou) were traditionally among the most celebrated gardens in China. Astor Court was based on a garden in Soochow called the Garden of the Master of the Fishing Nets, which is Ming Dynasty garden built between the 14th and 17th centuries. Astor Court opened to the public in 1981.

Astor Court is designed to simulate an outdoor garden. Upon entering Astor Court, my eye was first drawn towards the sheer verticality of the space. The ceiling of the courtyard is a large pyramidical skylight that allows in natural lighting. Since Astor Court is located within the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the lighting is instantly distinguishable from the other sections of the museum.

To further this feeling of being outdoors, Astor Court contains a covered walkway along the Eastern side of the garden, and a pavilion along the north edge of the garden. The structure of both the covered walkway and the pavilion were made from hand crafted Chinese wood and were constructed using traditional Chinese methods. The ceiling of the pavilion and covered walkway were specially constructed using ceramic techniques used in China during the eighteenth century.

The center piece of Astor Court is a moon-viewing terrace that uses Chinese upsweeps on the corners of the terrace’s roof. One very traditional usage of a Chinese garden is using a garden as a place for spirituality and idealism. In a traditional Chinese garden a moon-viewing terrace would be used as a place for spiritual meditation, watching the moon, or writing poetry. Poetry was a concept that was very integrated with the Chinese garden. At Astor Court, there is an inscription over the South entrance that reads, “Tanyou” which means, “In Search of Quietude.” There is also an inscription inside the courtyard which says, “Yashi” meaning, “Elegant Repose.”

Astor Court utilizes some very traditional Chinese techniques in the construction of the garden. One such example is the usage of faux-windows to provide the inhabitant of the garden with the feeling of being removed from the confines of the Metropolitan Museum. There are multiple windows along the Eastern wall of the garden, one window on the south wall, and also two faux-windows in the southern entrance. These faux-windows contain geometric lattice work that varies between each window. Directly past the lattice work are lighted plants on the “outside” of the window. This is done to give the illusion that the garden exists in an outdoor setting.

One very prevalent theme throughout Astor Court, is the idea of yin and yang. Throughout the garden, there is a constant play between hard and soft materials. The pavilion and covered walkway contain woodwork with a dark, warm finish, but the ceramic ceilings feel very cold and hard in contrast. The courtyards floor utilizes a simply geometric pattern constructed with grey terracotta bricks but sections of the floor are softened using plants and flowers. Within the areas containing plants there are a number of large limestone rocks that also create a certain play between the fragility of the vegetation with the strength of the limestone, furthering the idea of yin and yang.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Source by Shaun K

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