Martin Rein-Cano

Martin Rein-Cano

works in an old industrial building in an historic precinct of Berlin generating a potpourri of creativity – more than 250 projects – with some 40 eager and diverse young professionals.

An extraordinary ideas man full of energy and creativity[1], he hails from Buenos Aires. He created TOPOTEK1 in1996 after studying art history and landscape architecture in Europe and being influenced by famed landscaper Martha Schwartz.

He challenges assumptions and brings various disciplines together, eschewing rigidity and welcoming varied input in a flexible and organic process.

He says English gardens are predictable and he is always searching for creativity and inspiration. He says of his Heerenschürlie (sports facility and public park) near Zurich there has never been a landscape project like it. And of the Bahndeckel Project, Munich, it, takes up the subversive space of another world. The novel design brings landscape, art and sculpture together.

He believes gardens are the only art form to offer an experience that addresses …all the senses. Garden designs are always interactive.


Click below to listen to some audio from Martin Rein-Cano:


Profile: Martin Rein-Cano. An interview with the founding director of Berlin-based landscape architecture practice Topotek 1. Interview by Ricky Ricardo, Landscape Architecture Australia. February, 2016 (Issue 149).


[1]  See p.298 Avant Gardeners Thames & Hudson, TOPOTEK1 Berlin: Conceptual landscape design with a light and humorous touch. Warwick Forge agrees, I have never met anyone quite like him – a man constantly bursting with ideas and creativity.




Lecture One:  Avoiding the Predictable: migration of plants, objects and cultures.

Martin Rein-Cano

As modern human migration patterns intensify landscapes of habitation and their associated communities are in constant transition, evolution and reinvention. As the meeting ground of this modern nascent culture, public space has the potential to be the essential connective tissue within this massive migratory landscape. Tracing back to one of landscape architectures most fundamental and venerable of typologies, insight to address the complex contemporary issue of migration can be drawn from what is perhaps an unlikely source – the garden tradition; for it is in the garden that foreignness is natural and sought, new identities are born and innovative ideologies are demonstrated. The appropriation, reinvention and update of the garden tradition present possibilities for tactical modes of public space design intervention for modern societies of mixed and evolving cultural identity.

This lecture traces the history of identity and foreignness in the garden and demonstrates the contemporary appropriation and reinterpretation of garden inspired tactics through the TOPOTEK 1 project Superkilen in Copenhagen, Denmark.




Lecture Two: Authenticity in Landscape Design: Vorbild + Nachbild (images and after images)

Martin Rein-Cano

From the original (in German the vorbild) derives the resonant image (the nachbild). As an honest and introspective knock-off the nachbild is a work art – as an uninspired replica it is instead a mindless copy, or a nachbildung. Drawn from the landscape vorbild, the garden tradition mimics, exemplifies and twists landscape reality; gardens are inventors of alternative and second “natural” truths. In so doing the garden embodies fantasy and allows one the illusion of an alternative nature, one that is derivative of, but a departure from a mirrored view of reality. With the muting of artificial intervention however, the garden drifts towards dishonest and plagiarized “naturalistic” imitation. When the falsely presumed author of the garden is nature itself, landscape architecture and the landscape architect lose visibility and relevance, the art form loses its artist.

In an exploration of what is real, what is really real, what is fake and what is the real fake, this lecture considers the necessity of discernible artificiality in the garden and in the practice of landscape design. The TOPOTEK 1 Bahndeckel Theresienhöhe project in Munich, Germany will be presented to demonstrate the nachbild/vorbild ideology in landscape practice.