Garden of the Absurd (Allston, 2017)

“You know there’s already a lot of parks here right? If you guys are adding something, it should be more … fun.”
These sentiments of Alyssa, Allston resident and waitress at Stone Hearth Pizza, are echoed in our conversations with the community. Indeed, there are a half dozen parks and playgrounds in the vicinity of the Grove – scripted experiences with designated areas for rest and play. At the Grove, where Harvard meets Allston on contested ground, we propose a Garden of the Absurd, where residents and commuters alike will experience the unexpected: A mirrored forest that reflects and distorts the world around, casting the ever-changing skies and streetscapes into a sensual daze. Within this landscape of the fantastic, a visitor to the Grove turns adventurer, free to seek respite below the blooming awnings or play with the shiny stalks. Eschewing programming in favor of flexibility, gentle mounds rise for one to lean back upon, take a nap on, or even to stage a snowball fight. The absurd has the power to remove man-made distinctions of class by rendering appearances and norms illusory. For the Grove to be a destination, it should be a place where everyone, from pedestrians to Alyssa and her colleagues, can have fun together. We believe that the best way to do so is to turn a contested ground into a common one, where the Harvard and the Allston-Brighton communities could all enjoy the weird and the wonderful.