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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 urbanism (4)


Additions to the Kindred Crowd

I've recently updated my blogroll with some fantastic new reads I've been following. Most of them with one foot in the landscape realm, and the other in various peripheral reaches. I'd recommend adding all of these to your RSS feed to expand your idea of how the landscape affects our world in so many different ways:

Edible Geography

Authored by Nicola Twilley, longtime contributor to BLDG BLOG and wife to its author, Geoff Manaugh, Edible Geography tailors the common thread between food, landscape, architecture, geography, planning, and urbanism, among others. With titles such as Cupcake Gentrification, Cow Tunnels, and The Towns that Chocolate Built, Twilley reveals the extents to which food affects our infrastructure and cities.

Friends of the Pleistocene

FOP is a project of Smudge, a collaboration between Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse. Described as a dedication to exploring the conjuncture between landscape and contemporary human activity at sites shaped by the geologic epoch of the Pleistocene (2.588 million to 10000 years BP). Posts such as Subterranean Imagination and the Aesthetics of Nuclear Voids and The Desertification of New York City often draw massive scale depictions of earth processes and their relation to human activities.

Pathological Geomorphology

Or what I like to call landform porn, this posterous blog is a contribution by a makeup of several Geopathologists describing itself as "images of extreme landscapes, landforms and processes." Flocked full of various river delta satellite imagery from around the globe, the site is a beautiful resource for studying the earth's greatest sculptor, water, in action.

Quiet Babylon

Quiet Babylon asks you to take a look if you like "cyborgs, or architecture, or thoughtful futurism" (which we do) and "about sifting through the debris of the past and present to try to answer “What comes next?” Written by Tim Maly, we've found The Architects and Cyborgs series and Woven Spaces particularly fascinating.


A spinoff of Where, polis is a collaborative blog on urbanism with a global focus. It is a space for our regular contributors and readers to share ideas and information about anything and everything urban from multiple lenses. We've enjoyed reading Cities for Children and the Public Parks in Moscow series, which provides an alternate view of Moscow, often viewed as a stark and bleak environment, and 96 parks, 18 public gardens, and 100 square kilometers of forest existing in and around the city.

Below are a few other mentionable blogs, some younger then others, but worth keeping an eye on as they develop:

Plan and Section

What Were the Skies Like

Landscape Invocation



Camping in the Urban Wilderness

I'm a fairly regular camper.  Growing up in southern Ohio afforded me plenty of open space and woodlands to explore the wild and in a small way disappear from society for a brief time.  Now in southern California, I am a short drives distance from some of the greatest camping spots in the country.

In our last venture to San Onofre State Park, a surfing camp spot, the location of the designated campgrounds was less nature and more urban, but certainly not less "wild".  As we constructed temporary nomadic tent city I considered the view, to the west, native coastal plant life and beyond, the pacific.  Directly behind to the east, not ten feet away were the parking spots and our cars, just behind the access road the amtrak tracks, and beyond that the 8-lane 405.

A less idyllic vision of the camping experience but I began to envision the future experiences of campers.  As pockets of true wilderness that remain become few and far between, overcrowded and restricted access for their protection, the reason to visit these parks becomes muted.  They become a place that no longer tests your manhood against the elements but acts as more as a museum for our ancestral frontiersman.

But a new wilderness is developing.  Cities are rapidly growing, becoming more complex, and rather then locking ourselves up in our protective boxes, what if we found a new way to to test ourselves in the throws of the urban wilderness?  Rather then becoming intimately involved with nature, listening and understanding the landscape, we rediscover urbanity in a completely new way.  Smells, sounds, people, paths, roads, parks, architecture all become things of exploration rather then simply parts of the sum.

Perhaps a traveler from Sydney to New York could more quickly become familiar with the genus loci by submitting to its extreme exposure.

Import Export Architecten designed a new type of ‘small scale’ urban camping. The mobile UC can be implanted in any city centre that likes to experiment with this new type of camping. UC is a place where adventurous city wanderers can stay overnight, meet other campers and find a safe shelter with basic designed practical facilities.

Imagine some of the architectural visions of future Utopian cities, vast, and completely intertwined with giant swaths of green spaces.  Forests, urban farms, and food providing plant life.  Travelers could continuously explore the new urban wilderness, traveling from camping station to station, living off the land as they go.

I also wonder, could this create a new breed of a nomadic culture, the homeless no longer homeless but joining a tribe of wanderlust vagabonds freed from the constraints of societal routine?

+All images via Office for Word and Image 


WE are the Guardians of the Public Infrastructure

{Image via The Infrastructuralist}

We no longer have excuses for complaints that our voices cannot be heard.  Technology has given every imaginable way to organize and communicate against things we feel in the wrong.

Even in cities, above the car horns, street noise, and construction, means of pinpointing urban blight are here to give no room for them to be swept under the rug.

Through mapping technology, something I'm fond of seeing utilized in landscape contexts, is currently being developed in multiple facets in attempt to improve the lives of urban citizens.  I was recently contacted by the Environmental Mapping Technology Company SenSaris, after they read this post, to help design their personal, portable devices for measuring environmental conditions.

{Noise map around Bastille. Image via SenSaris}{SenSaris function diagram}

The mapping and measurements taken from the portable sensors directly correlate to inhabited areas to more efficiently influence which areas are in immediate of bioremediation or urban redesign.

At the social spectrum, the Infrastructionalist has created an interactive mapping system empowering citizens to pinpoint infrastructure degradation call F** This, Find It, Flag It, Fix It.  From their site:

In the land of F** This! you are granted many wonderful powers. You can become a guardian of public infrastructure. You can keep your city working smoothly. You can post pictures of busted crap–partially disassembled escalators in subway stations, cavernous potholes, permanently dark street lights–and trade snide and insightful comments with your wonderful new F** This! cyberfriends (why can’t your real life friends be this cool?). At the same time, while you’re busy enjoying yourself, we’ll see to it that the appropriate public officials get notified and the problem you identified gets dealt with. Or, if said officials prove useless in fixing the busted stuff, we’ll see to it that they endure at least some small measure of public humiliation. It’ll be fun!

{F** This map. Image via The Infrastructuralist}

While bureaucracies are a necessary evil, perhaps as tools like these become mainstays in our everyday use we become empowered to create the neighborhoods that we see fit.  If we don't, then it's a damn waste isn't it?


Element Seeking Botanical Mobility

{Image by D.U.S.}

Plants are living creatures.  There's even been debates as to their protection and rights as living creatures, and in some cases, they've been granted those protections by governing law.  Minus that I think it makes for an interesting late night conversation, I'm not extremely interested in exploring the potential emotions of plants.

But, plants are living creatures, and will adapt and adjust their forms to accommodate to their environment. We've discussed this on D.U.S. before, diving into theories of mixing solar technology to create a fusion of botanical robotized organisms, de-shackled from ground and root structure and provided with greater mobility to seek out elemental necessities.  But mostly to promote healthier plant growth, and create urban space with dynamic qualities.

This mixing of nature and technology, whether through genetic manipulation or mechanical empowerment paints a spectrum of the wildest possibilities, from playful interaction and color, to haunting Sci-fi like imageries.

Researchers at New York University's interactive telecommunications program have come up with a device that allows plants to tell owners when they need water or if they've had too much via the social network blogging service Twitter.

The device is made of soil-moisture sensors that are connected to a circuit board. They measure the level of moisture, and then communicate the information to a microcontroller.  So it would seem that if we have the ability to control a computer from these sensors, then we could indeed incorporate these sensor controls into a mechanized, mobile system, then wa-la, plants are programmed to detect and move to water and sun sources when needed.

{"Roving Forest" image by Tomorrow's Thoughts Today}

This actually in a way occurs naturally.  For centuries in North America boreal forests have been migrating north following the retreat of glaciers and escaping a gradually warming climate.  Of course this migration occurred over thousands of years and took vast amounts of scientific research to uncover.

But what if we enabled plants with the robotized mobility discussed above.  While climates remained relatively calm their patterns of movement easily designed and controlled.  But what happens when resources become scarce and the necessity of life overpowers our control.  In the same way we can envision water, land, energy, and food wars in the future, what if trees with mechanic mobility were added to the mix.  Entire forests of water starved Elms, Oaks, and Maples march across the landscape in search of replenishment. Programmed to detect reserves, they seek and destroy satellite cities living off grid and there own water supplies.  Once designed for dynamic space in the urban setting, and to adapt to altered urban microclimates, the trees become just one other species desperately trying to survive a climate changing planet.

You can actually follow the Twittering plant mentioned above at:

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