Grand Gold Award for Jo Thompson at the GBA Shenzhen Flower Show

Landscape designer Jo Thompson has been awarded the highest award for the ‘I Live with Nature’ show garden at the GBA Shenzhen Flower Show in China.

Jo Thompson show garden for the GBA Shenzhen Flower Show

The show garden includes an intricate brick pavilion at it centre created using Augmented Reality (AR) technology, thanks to a collaboration with Princeton University’s Form Finding Lab and researchers from the University of Bergamo and Pegaso University.

To construct the pavilion an AR headset was used by a skilled mason, helping to guide the placement of each brick. The technology allowed for a better accuracy of the positioning of the bricks so the gravity-defying geometries and leans could be achieved. The construction was completed in real time, eliminating time inefficiencies and error and therefore any material waste. AR is an exciting merging of traditional bricklaying methods with new technology and a more sustainable way to build.

Opening to the public on 23 March, the garden is a celebration of the wonder of nature in an urban setting and includes a series of layered, experiential spaces, undulating pathways and natural ponds. The garden explores the harmony which can be created between built form and the natural world, including the beautiful brick pavilion at its centre.

The walls of the pavilion both lean into the central space and also out over the planting and into the garden which surrounds it, creating moments of marvel and wonder. The increasing gaps towards the top of the structure create openings so the planting can be viewed from the inside. The pavilion speaks of the balance between urban life and nature and its blurring boundaries if we ‘lean into nature’.

Speaking about her I Live with Nature garden, Jo Thompson said: “I am so excited to have used this impressive new technology to create our I Live with Nature garden. Having seen this technique used to create a vaulted arch for the Venice architecture biennale last year, I was eager to use it for the first time in a horticultural show garden. For construction in Shenzhen we used the technology completely remotely, which means we were able to design and construct the garden in the space of two and a half months.”

AR is a mixed-reality technology that is transforming various industries, including construction and design. It allows the blending of the physical and digital worlds, to create a virtual environment that can enhance design, planning and the building of construction projects. The technology allows the construction of complex geometries and patterns without a single construction drawing.

Jo Thompson is one of the UK’s leading garden designers. With her small studio team, her projects are wide ranging, and include residential family gardens, historic landscapes, public spaces and country estates to restaurant roof gardens, rooftop terraces and urban boltholes. Current projects include working with Iford Manor in Wiltshire, the restoration of Highgate Cemetery in London with Gustafson Porter + Bowman, and the regeneration of the walled gardens at Water Lane in Kent.

Thompson is the recipient of four Gold and five Silver Gilt medals from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and winner of the People’s Choice at the 2017 RHS Chatsworth Flower Show. She is a member of the RHS Gardens Committee and is Garden Advisor for RHS Rosemoor, as well as being a member of the RHS Show Gardens Selection Panel and an RHS Shows Judge. Thompson also tutors at The London College of Garden Design and is a Fellow of the Landscape Institute, a Fellow of the Society of Garden Designers and a Registered Member of the Society of Garden Designers.

The Shenzhen Flower Show runs from the 23rd of March until the 1st of April and has attracted more than two million visitors since 2019.