The Grotto Gets a Makeover

September 8, 2023

The Grotto is a sunken garden below the main entrance of the Architecture Building that had become derelict and overgrown with weeds.


Look at it now. Over the summer, members of the Landscape Lab student group rolled up their sleeves and transformed this formerly neglected space into a welcoming and green oasis.


“This design aims to offer a sanctuary for relaxation and reflection, inviting individuals to find inner calm amidst the beauty of nature,” says Landscape Lab co-president Juan Ramirez.


“Our team had been seeking to revitalize this unused, neglected space since the founding of our club,” says Ramirez, a Master of Architecture student. “We wanted to make a difference in the lives of our immediate architecture school, with the goal of inspiring fellow students to join our club’s mission.”

Photo of an overgrown greenspace between a building and a wall
Before image of the Grotto
Photo of a manicured greenspace between a building and a wall.
After image of the Grotto

The three-person team that designed and realized the project comprises Ramirez, Cameron Penney, a Landscape Lab co-founder and 2023 Master of Architecture graduate, and Red Narvasa, also a 2023 Master of Architecture graduate.


After two days and 20 hours of work, they completed the garden on August 12.


“The Grotto’s design draws inspiration from the serenity and simplicity of Zen gardens,” explains Ramirez.


“Our club employed a design that embraces minimalist principles, utilizing clean lines, balanced elements, and a carefully curated plant palette to create a harmonious and tranquil outdoor space,” he says.


“The design incorporates elements such as vibrant marble stone, strategically placed aged rocks, and meticulously pruned trees and shrubs to evoke a sense of peacefulness and contemplation.”

About the Landscape Lab


The Landscape Lab was founded in 2022 by Master of Architecture students Cameron Penney and Jillian Weinberger and is open to all students at Carleton University.


The club is dedicated to exploring the art and science of designing outdoor spaces. Through weekly meetings, design competitions, plant sales, and field trips, the group delves into landscape architecture, sustainable landscapes, urban planning, and environmental conservation. The goal is to inspire a greater appreciation for the natural world, foster creativity, and promote sustainable practices within the Carleton community.


Follow Landscape Lab on Facebook and Instagram @culandscapelab