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Design Under Sky discusses landscape architecture, the utilitarian but leaning towards the conceptual, thinking on modern occurrences and peripheral boundaries.  

DUS is the blog and personal design studio of Adam E. Anderson, a designer based out of the East Coast, currently a Critic at the Rhode Island School of Design, and a designer at Landworks Studio.

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December 2011
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Entries in Guerrilla Gardening (2)


Fostering Modern Johnny Appleseeds

[Greenaid dispersal machine, image via Fletcher Studio]

While cartoonish depictions of ol' Johnny Appleseed aren't particularlly accurate (he was more real estate mogul and bootlegger then selfless seed(plant not human) spreader) the notion of unruly citizen powered rewilding through guerilla seed dispersal is a fun thought.

Local Ecologist pointed us to the collaborated efforts of Fletcher Studio and Common Studio to create 'Greenaid', a gumball machine type seed bomb dispenser and:

They can be thrown anonymously into these derelict urban sites to temporarily reclaim and transform them into places worth looking at and caring for. The Greenaid dispensary simply makes these guerilla gardening efforts more accessible to all by appropriating the existing distribution system of the quarter operated candy machine.

Its this paragraph taken from Common's site that bothered me a bit, and let me preface with I like the idea, but playing devil's advocate. The pre-made seed bombs takes all the mystery and power away from the Guerilla Gardener. I no longer envision garden militants in dungy basements, crafting their own specific mixes and divising planned attacks for specified locations. The seed material has already been decided and contained through these machines dispersed through out cities. The bombing effort is thus less guerilla and more modern warfare gardening with, in this case, David Fletcher the Commanding General of potentially hundreds of seed dispersing infantry. This type of garden warfare is in contrast to the landscape architect manned drone guerilla gardening warfare we discussed previously.

[Greenaid packaging and product, image via Fletcher studio]

The other comment that troubled me about this approach is "reclaim and transform them into places worth looking at and caring for." This points to one of the many complications with Guerilla Gardening, that it is very subjective to consider what areas are "worth looking at." To some, an abandoned parking lot holds special value, local kids use it for baseball, kickball, etc., then some asshole comes by and plants trees and grasses everywhere, shifting the value, creating it for some, while destroying it for others.

Regardless, if I were to walk by one of these machines and had a quarter on me, I'd definitely buy a Greenaid and chuck it in an odd place. And I think that is the beauty of the idea, accessibility, just keep them out of my sandlot.

In a slightly unrelated topic, Common Studio also has another modular urban remediation project on their site worth checking out titled '[C]Urban Ecology', from their site:

(C)urban Ecology is a modular micro-remediation infrastructure that integrates seamlessly within our existing streets, supplanting the mundane utilitarian curb-and-gutter system to offer new levels of amenity. A versatile and performative design provides opportunities for water permeation and street vegetation, while sequestering small scale debris before it reaches the urban watershed.

Identifying the typical urban street as both the source of the problem as well as the site of the solution, (C)urban Ecology targets the issues of polluted urban drainage at the most feasible scale of intervention, and achieves maximum positive impact on the built and natural environment with minimal material and energy inputs.

Because it can be deployed and aggregated at various intensities, (C)urban Ecology can be effective from the scale of a single unit installed near a storm drain, to an array of 100 units that fringe the sidewalks of an entire city block.

Related: Ludic Guerrilla Gardening Drone Warfare | Genetic Necessities of Wilderness


Ludic Guerrilla Gardening Drone Warfare

{The weapon of future Landscape Architects, seed bombs deployed by man-operated drone}

Amidst two seemingly unrelated activities of gaming and guerilla gardening comes a new video game titled Seeds of Revolution (found via @eatingbark). The games allow you to virtually green empty spaces in the urban realm while avoiding restrictive authorities, without the real-life fear of detection and municipal punishment.

This is a cute game and at the very least provides attention to guerrilla gardening efforts, but with recent advancements in augmented reality and virtual gaming, I can't help but imagine that a new style of drone based urban landscape replenishment isn't a far off possibility.

{Future Landscape Architects at Battle Command. On yet another urban sortie on abandoned space.}

Take the recent Parrot AR.Drone, an iphone controlled machine, equiped with cameras allowing you to interact with other players. We had mentioned previously that this might replace sight visits, sending the drone instead to record information. But what if we were able to equip this drone with seed bombing capabilities? At your base of operations equiped with real-time city maps of abandoned spaces, which were created by research such as the Local Codes project. You send out the drone in an all out attack on city dead zones.

The Landscape Architect becomes a virtual Urban Commando, environmentally "tagging" their territory, the designer's identity unknown until their calling card is revealed through their signature plant growth. Competition ensues between architects battling for bragging rights to the most planted areas.

A new actual game of similar spatial combatancy is Greed Corp. A game described as:

finding the delicate balance between harvesting the land for resources and preserving it to stay alive. Will you defend your territory or sacrifice it to keep it out of enemy hands? Manage the finite available resources to build your army and use the collapsing terrain to your advantage. Destroy your enemies, or destroy the very land they stand on, before they do it to you.

{The drone in action, target acquired, ready to fire.}

This interaction of mapping and potential robotic deployment reveals possible scenerios for future practice of urban design and landscape. The idea is an evolvement of games like The SIMs, adding the excitement of real results and the danger of bypassing city codes.