Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin
Ads by Land8

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.

For design inquires, feel free to contact me below.

contact | subscribe | twitter | facebook |

December 2011
January 2011
June 2010
November 2009
September 2009

Entries in Landscape Architecture (45)


Becoming Aware

One of the greatest impacts the process of becoming a Landscape Architect has had on me is the way in which it's made me "aware" of everything around me, and reminds me of a Boris Pasternak line from Doctor Zhivago:

Lara walked along the tracks following a path worn by pilgrims and then turned into the fields. Here she stopped and, closing her eyes, took a deep breath of the flower-scented air of the broad expanse around her. It was dearer to her than her kin, better than a lover, wiser than a book. For a moment she rediscovered the purpose of her life. She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment and to call each thing by its right name.

I notice cracks in sidewalks, oddly constructed corners, and all sorts of behavior of the living and built environment. On a recent stroll with a lady friend we walked and I pointed out the different varieties of flowering trees spring has afforded, and found joy in the fact that as she began to learn and "call each thing by its right name," that she too was becoming aware.

That is the beauty of Brett Camper's iphone app Trees Near You, which currently chronicles NYC trees, their locations, and not only environmental contributions, but economic. We've touched on merging factors of tech (here and here) and "nature" and how advancements in technology are becoming ubiquitous, and rather leading us away from nature, are re-introducing us to it.

The app which integrates with geo-location is the perfect, transportable system to not just learn the identification of trees, but better understand their role in an overall urban ecosystem. As the season's turn you'll no longer pass by, acknowledging them only as a spatial object, but they become personified as you notice the ever changing intricate characteristics provided by climate and season.

Currently the app is limited to the NYC area, but would imagine more cities are soon to follow.


Related: Fieldwork | Mobile Tree Identification   We Can Play Our Cities Like Instruments


ASLA Awards 2010 Highlights

[Image via OJB. Site lighting provides a sense of security that encourages students to study and socialize at all hours. The water trays provide drama and depth to the garden at night.]

The annual ASLA awards have been announced and there is a slight relief to the ever expanding trophy cases of the Hargreave's and Peter Walker's with some relatively less profiled shops taking honors. One being Turenscape (can someone explain how they qualify for an American award?) who took away three awards in the General Design Category. One exciting aspect that a majority of the winners seemed to share was an emphasis on ecology integration and sustainable practices. I've highlighted a few below that tickled my fancy:

[Image by Turenscape. Computer rendering bird’s eye view of Zone-2 and Zone-3 showing the recovered wetland on the right, the islets dotting the lake to the upper left, and an educational facility to the middle-right.] The Qinhuangdao Beach Restoration: An Ecological Surgery | Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province, China 

Studio: Turenscape

I particularly appreciated the heavy emphasis on ecological restoration and impact the design focused on. The project created a regenerative landscape that also serves as a beautiful and usable people space. The project brief from ASLA:

Using various Regenerative Design techniques, a heavily eroded, badly abused and decaying beach has been ecologically recovered and successfully transformed into an aethestically pleasing and well visited place, demonstrating landscape architects can professionally facilitate the initiatives of rebuilding a harmonious relationship between man and nature through ecological design.

[Image by Turenscape. Site plan and regenerative design strategies for three sections along the shore: to stop soil erosion, renew dying vegetation, rehabilitee the damaged shoreline, and recover a wetland through an integrated education facility.][Image by Turenscape. The boardwalk now (bottom) in comparison with the existing site conditions (top): the regenerative design strategy mitigates beach erosion and helps recover the dying vegetation through careful installation using 'floating' bases made of fiberglass.][Image by Turenscape. The recovered wetland (bottom) in comparison with the previous site conditions (top): The site was an abandoned theme park built on a coastal wetland. Ponds were constructed using building debris to capture storm water runoff.] 

Sonoran Landscape Laboratory | Tuscon, Arizona USA

Studio: Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Inc.

[Image by Ten Eyck. The Sonoran Landscape Laboratory is a high performance landscape functioning as both an outdoor classroom and entry plaza. Dappled shade draws students outside, strengthening their connection between program studies and the natural environment. ]

In a relatively restricted space Ten Eyck were able to create a functional wildlife habitat, nicely scaled and comfortable space, that gives a sense of being much larger then as truly exists. The project brief from ASLA:

The Sonoran Landscape Laboratory is a high performance landscape functioning as both an outdoor classroom and entry plaza. It exemplifies sustainable strategies of water harvesting, climate regulation, air and water cleansing, recycling, urban wildlife habitat and human well being. The former greyfield is now a thriving habitat that shades the southern exposure of the new building with a vine covered scrim. An 11,600-gallon tank collects water produced by the building to support the native garden.

[Image by Ten Eyck. Steel runnel re-circulating water from the wetland pond.][Image by Ten Eyck. Nestled between water harvesting desert arroyos and beneath a Mesquite Bosque, a sunken court composed of permeable stabilized decomposed granite serves as both classroom and informal gathering space. The constructed wetland is shown in the background.] 

The Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University | Houston, Texas USA

Studio: The Office of James Burnett

[Image by OJB. A bosque of Allee Lacebark Elms organizes the space between the Pavilion and creates a new entry to the Fondren Library. This garden and pavilion has become the new “Heart of the Campus” at Rice.]

OJB is no newbie to the award scene, but we're a fan of their work. The pavilion's simplistic forms, clean lines, and broad planting strokes give an ordered beauty and extremely well defined space that also provide protection from Houston heat. The project brief from ASLA:

Conceived as a landmark destination for Rice University's campus, the Brochstein Pavilion demonstrates the ability of landscape architecture to foster social interaction and improve the human condition. A study in restraint and the purity of form, the Brochstein Pavilion creates a powerful spatial framework that has transformed an unstructured, underutilized quadrangle into the center of student activity on campus.

[Image by OJB. Site Plan]Image by OJB. The west elevation of the Pavilion. Designed to respect the original concept of the Central Quadrangle, the new intervention employs a simple system of paths, lighting and planting to unify the disparate spaces.] 

The Power House | Dallas, Texas USA

Studio: Hocker Design Group

Image by Hocker Design Group. Bird’s eye view close-up of raised steel planter, buffalo grass, and crushed basalt aggregate.]

Two of our favorite residential projects come from a studio I wasn't familiar with, Hocker Design Group, which received two residential awards. The Power House exemplifies a well thought process of modern material selection and spatial structure. The project brief from ASLA:

This neighborhood electrical substation was built in 1923 by Dallas Power and Light Company in a mixed residential and commercial area of town. This urban garden has sprung to life with in the walls of a former industrial compound. The garden fills spaces that directly relate back to its original industrial predecessor.

[Image by Hocker Design Group. Site Plan.][Image by Hocker Design Group. Detail view of raised steel plinth, buffalo grass, and lone mesquite trees beyond] 

The Pool House | Dallas, Texas USA

Studio: Hocker Design Group

[Image by Hocker Design Group. View looking North of pool and ipe deck.]

Another winner from Hocker, the division and spatial sequencing seems well maticulated, and I am particularly fond of the contrasting material selection. The project brief from ASLA:

The Pool House serves as an urban retreat for an artist and car enthusiast who live next door. The project was an intense collaboration of architect, client, and landscape architect. The central spine of the site is a 6' ht. glass slag privacy wall. Seamless transitions between the inside and out were extremely important. A minimal plant palette creates mass plantings used for large textural impact and screening for privacy.

[Image by Hocker Design Group. View of lower stone terrace and fire pit][Image by Hocker Design Group. Dusk view looking North of entry path and glass slag wall.]

Of course there are several other winning works viewable from the ASLA site. Enjoy, and would like to hear any discussion of criticism on the selected works.



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


A Park Opens in Brooklyn

With yesterday’s long-delayed opening of Pier 1, the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park is now approximately seven percent complete! OK, so there’s still a long way to go until New York’s third great urban landscape is whole—but, if this first section is any indication, it will be worth the wait. Pier 1 includes waterfront promenades, large lawns, a playground, and the “Granite Prospect,” an impressive riverside staircase made out of more than 300 pieces of salvaged granite.

via Metropolis Mag



[James Rose displaying a scrap model]

The James Rose Center has announced a competition titled Suburbia Transformed, One Garden at a Time, an assemblage of landscape architecture projects that exemplify Rose's modus operandi of combining economical, site efficient, and ecological approaches with a modern aesthetic. Rose termed his designs, "Space-Sculptures-with-Shelters."

For most, James Rose is remembered as one of three Harvard Students who rebelled against their Beaux Arts training in the 1930s, helping to usher landscape architecture—kicking and screaming—into the modern era. Yet somewhere after Harvard and well into the real world, Rose lost any faith he may have had in the modern planning and design professions he had helped to inspire. By the mid 1950s he had retreated from public practice and spent most of the later part of his career designing private gardens that were in direct contrast to the environmental excesses and cultural banality of the contemporary post-WWII suburbanization he saw all around him.   

These built critiques were made with found objects, recycled, left-over materials, native plants and whatever he could scavenge from the sites themselves.  He called them “space-sculptures-with-shelters,” and they reflected the creative, spatial and artistic nature of the garden in ways that were greener, more economical and less wasteful of resources. In doing so, Rose incorporated a conservation ethic into a modern design aesthetic, skillfully choreographing outdoor spatial experiences that inspire us to better perceive our relationship to the environment.  Today, in the age of sustainability, it is equally, if not more, important to consider contemporary green technologies within the context of the aesthetics of human landscape experience.   

Through a juried competition, Suburbia Transformed, One Garden at a Time will assemble contemporary projects achieving this goal into an exhibition and catalogue. The emphasis is on how emerging sustainable strategies and tactics are used to create human landscape experiences that are beautiful, inspiring, perhaps profound; and which might serve as examples for transforming the suburban residential fabric, one garden at a time.

Find more about the competion and entry info here.

Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 9 Next 5 Entries »