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Landscape Design Software- Which is Best?

Article by Win Phyo We investigate which landscape design software should be on your radar if you want to use the best program out there.  Are you a techy person, interested in using design software? Want to stay on top of the landscape architecture game? Here at LAN (Landscape Architects Network), we have offered several articles that dive deeply into this subject: Ashley Penn has given us the essential guide to a range of landscape design software options to suit any budget and writer Paul McAtomney has also given the low-down on some of the top 3D modeling software. The following list is of the top landscape design software programs that you should definitely be using or at least trying out throughout your student life and professional career. We will take you through the best options, used by some of the top companies, from initial line drawings to renderings to making final edits and finally, the layout.

The Best Landscape Design Software

1. AutoCAD

Let’s start off with landscape design software that has never left the top trending list: AutoCAD. We have all used AutoCAD from our beginner student years, right through into our professional careers. It is a versatile program that can be used as a stepping-stone to 3D modeling software like SketchUp. In fact, transporting AutoCAD line drawings into SketchUp to produce simple and quick 3D models has always been a dependable and efficient technique. WATCH >>> The SketchUp Connection Process between AutoCAD and SketchUp for Landscape Architecture Design

2. Vectorworks Landmark

There has always been a debate between the preference of using Vectorworks or AutoCAD. If you have used both, you can let us know what you think of the two options. Vectorworks may not be the industry standard but it has been growing in popularity in many landscape companies. This is due to its versatility and ease of use, which allows you to work in 2D and 3D, as well as having industry-specific features like a parking tool or even its own plant database. If you try this out, you won’t be missing out as there are options to import and export drawings from other programs such as AutoCAD, SketchUp and 3ds Max. WATCH >>> GSG – Vectorworks Landmark 2016 – Introduction

3. Adobe Illustrator

Adobe has brought out many software options that are great for the landscape profession. Adobe Illustrator is a great one for line works; for example, you can easily edit the separate lines on a PDF drawing, which you import into the program, as well as exporting it for other programs like AutoCAD. Likewise, you can make beautiful diagrams, maps and other graphics such as infographics using this program. WATCH >>> Creating A Map With Illustrator – Drawing a river with a variable width

4. Sketchup

Sketchup is another one of the popular and useful tools that has been used worldwide in many design professions including landscape architecture, since it came out in 2000. It is a versatile 3D modeling landscape design software with many plug-ins that allow its users to turn their initial simple 3D models into cool, crazy and beautiful works of art. WATCH >>> landscape architects, garden design – sketchup

5. Lumion

Widely used in some of the larger multi-disciplinary firms, Lumion is a popular program amongst architects. It is also becoming commonly recognized in the landscape architecture world as a 3D rendering program that is easy to learn, whilst producing fantastic results. You can check out this article that explains how this landscape design software can help bring your design ideas to life. WATCH >>>  Lumion 6.0 Launch Trailer

6. Autodesk 3ds Max

3ds Max is used in the industry to produce professional and realistic 3D renderings and animations. It is one of the more challenging programs to master but it is a highly regarded landscape design software. Although it is a high-end product that is mainly used in professional environments, for the techy landscape architects out there, it is a worthwhile program to learn. WATCH >>> landscape design making by 3d max and Render by lumion

7. Rhino

Rhino is part AutoCAD, part 3D modeling and part illustrator software that can be used to create beautiful line work for quick 3D graphics. With an even cleaner finish than SketchUp, there are many tutorials out there that can give you the tools you need to achieve a clean 3D model. WATCH >>> Modeling a landscape in Rhino 5

8. Autodesk Revit

Revit is still relatively uncommon in some of the smaller firms but the bigger multi-disciplinary firms are using the software as the popularity of BIM (Building Information Modeling) increases. The software is not tailored particularly well for our industry but it can be used to create great terrain models or detail works. It allows the flexibility of working in plans, sections and 3D visuals all in one go and can provide more information than AutoCAD. If you are interested, there are many tutorials that can get you started. WATCH >>> Siteworks for Revit

9 . Adobe Photoshop

What would we do without Adobe Photoshop? This is another versatile and high-quality-image producing software that is used by many landscape architects. From an amateur to a pro user, there are many tutorials that allow you to create sleek renderings. Indeed, this program is a popular choice to make final renderings and touch-ups. WATCH >>> Sketchup to Photoshop: quick rendering tutorial

10. Adobe InDesign

As part of the Adobe software range, Adobe InDesign has been a true classic, a reliable “go-to” program that commonly used for laying out projects. From booklets to large presentation sheets, we have yet to find something else that achieves the same outcome as elegantly as InDesign. It is also an easy software to learn. WATCH >>> ARCHITECTURE PORTFOLIO TUTORIAL: ADDING TEXT

From the classics to the new ones growing in popularity, we definitely recommend you try out some of these fantastic software programs, if you haven’t already. Sometimes, whilst working in industry, it is just about having knowledge in the right software programs, being able to adapt and jump between them to produce nice drawings at the quickest speed. If you have used some of these options already, do share with us about your experience. Do you have a favorite? What do you use the program for?

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Article by Win Phyo

10 Projects That Show the Power of Detail in Design

Article by Win Phyo Good design is in the details – We take a look at 10 landscape architecture projects that show the power of detail in design. It is often the little things that count and a combination of little things usually end up amounting to something worthy, touching and extraordinary. This applies to nearly everything in life but guess what? It also applies to landscape designs too! As designers working for many kinds of clients, our job is to paint an exciting big picture. However, what happens when your design gets implemented? In the end, it is the visitors and users of your site that count. It is they who will gush over a tiny detail in design, remember how they felt, what they heard and the small personal interactions they had with your design. This is exactly why, in this article, we are going to be celebrating many types of details in landscape designs and show you how they matter.

The Power of Detail in Design

10. Starry Bicycle Path  Nestled within the hometown of Vincent Van Gogh is a one-kilometre-long, energy-efficient bicycle path that glows in the dark. Inspired by Van Gogh’ painting “Starry Night” and embedded within this bike lane are 50,000 stones coated in phosphorescent paint and solar-powered LEDs to imitate the beauty of the painting in real life. During the day, it is an ordinary bike lane but the special paint gathers energy to create a magical, unique experience for cyclists commuting during the night. If all bicycle pathways were like this, perhaps people would be inclined to cycle more. Nevertheless, this is what happens when practicality, energy-consciousness and beauty is combined in a simple but powerful detail in design.

Detail in Design

Credit: ‘Daan Roosegaarde’ and Heijmans

9. LaLaport Toyosu  There are many great things that can be said about this site in Tokyo. In comparison to our first example, this is a complete contrast. What happened to subtlety? Well, this project shows how details in repetition that follow a particular theme can create a fun experience. The former dock and port site has followed an oceanic theme. Take a look at how the paving follows the waves of the ocean and how in certain places, it raises up to create a play feature. Have you seen the benches, made to look like a clump of coral, that are pure white, and how the trees poke through, like sticks in shallow water?
Detail in Design

LaLaport Toyosu. Photo courtesy of Earthscape

8. The Four Seasons Hotel and Residences  Here, we take it up a notch to reveal detail in design created on a bigger scale. The landscape is set between a 21st century skyscraper and a 19th century Victorian home. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, however, this project is a true example of a conceptual design executed in a bold manner. Sitting in front of the hotel entrance to welcome guests is a pixelated, rose-patterned “urban carpet” paving with a grand, cast iron fountain four stories high. Adjacent to this is a rose-shaped garden to compliment the patterns. This creates a branding image for the famous hotel – its bold, startling details are sure to stay in everyone’s minds!
Detail in Design

The Four Seasons Hotel and Residences Landscape Design. Photo courtesy of Claude Cormier + Associés

7. Choorstraat Papenhulst  The clean execution of the furniture detailing in this project is awe-inspiring. Within this courtyard, all of the furniture is made out of the same wood, including the lattice work of the paving upon which these features sit. There is some seating shaped like blocks and modern benches; however, the star attraction is the long picnic-bench-like table with a water fountain that doubles as a wine cooler. Elegantly placed in the courtyard, the residents of this site will be made to feel like characters in Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
Detail in Design

Choorstraat-Papenhulst. Image courtesy of Buro Lubbers

6. Aspire Public Art Lighting Project 
Detail in Design

People interacting with the Aspire project; credit: Warren Langley

This community-focused public art work lies in an underpass and allows residents from the nearby suburbs to feel safe walking through it at night. The figures are shaped like trees which glows during night time and are made to look like structures holding up the highway. They are made out of high density polyethylene, a popular plastic commonly used for packaging. It is a subtle yet striking detail in design, fitting into its surrounding context and during the night, it transforms the space into something more meaningful. 5. Hilgard Garden Within this garden is a material palette that consists of cedar wood, used as bench-planters, concrete used for a retaining wall/ planter feature, granite paving, and COR-TEN steel fence and retaining panels. These materials are used in a purposeful manner to differentiate the function of the small spaces within the garden and to create a strong visual axis. The end result is truly breath-taking. The project is an example of how a hardscape material palette can create a strong textural detail, which strengthens the overall shape and form.
Detail in Design

Hilgard Garden. Credit: Mary Barensfeld Architecture

4. Place Lazare Goujon  There are many good thigs that can be said about this project. However, we want you to focus on only one thing for this site and that is the fountains. Yes, they are grand and fit in very well to the existing buildings which surround the public square. However, if you walk a few steps in to take a closer look at these giants, you will see tiny pieces of blue and gold paste pieces with words on them. These look fun and at the same time, elegant, against the blue background of the basin. The designer has worked alongside an artist to create this and we can imagine this detail shimmering from a distance.
Detail in Design

Place Lazare Goujon. Photo credit: In Situ

3. Diana Memorial Fountain  This circular water fountain was made as a memorial, representing the inclusive and loveable personality of Princess Diana. The fountain feature has textural details that influence the sound and character of the water as it flows in a circular motion around the fountain. This is made from computer-machined pieces of granite connected at intervals. In some areas, the water flows freely and calmly and in others, its speed quickens, splashing or gurgling, accompanied by the soft and loud sounds of its journey.
Detail in Design

Aerial view of Diana Memorial Fountain. Photo credit: Jason Hawkes

2. Orquideorama This 50-foot high canopy is made out of steel and wood and takes inspiration from honeycombs. The steel structure allows the canopy to expand far and wide and the latticework of the wood creates interlocking shadows. Each structure funnels rainwater downwards and the overall shape and form connects the built and the natural together in this Columbian botanical garden. The beauty of this project is in turning a simple concept into a highly technical and well-detailed design.
Detail in Design

Orquideorama. Photo credit: Sergio Gomez – www.sergiogomezphotographer.com

1. North Bethesda Market This project is a true demonstration of the “importance of the little things” we have mentioned in the beginning of this article. It is set amongst a luxurious shopping facility and apartments and the different spaces within reflect a place for people of all ages. Our favourite detail in this project is the use of locally-sourced granite in different colours and shapes, used in many features ranging from steps to waterfalls to paving. What tops this project off is the implementation of perforated copper waterjet-cut texts, mounted in sculptures that edge the steps. One particular piece named “Alluvium” has lighting inside which illuminates the words and creates shadows beneath the floor!
Detail in Design

North Bethesda Market. Photo credit: Eric Piasecki

Appreciating Detail in Design

By now, we realise we have taken you on a whirlwind journey of details today. From elegant subtlety to striking boldness, they vary by form, material, and themes but one thing is for sure- the details compliment the context in which the site is set. Whether through strong visual images, a collection of simple features, or the deliberate use of certain materials, we can say that none of these projects have simply taken the standard way out of detailing. They show us that it is important and worthwhile to take the time to consider the impact of the little things and design them artfully. Which project has made the deepest impression on you? Let us know in the comment section below!  

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Article by Win Phyo

Top 10 Websites for Online Portfolios

Article by Win Phyo – Total reading time 5 minutes We take a look at 10 of the best platforms for online portfolios Dear students…we know this might be perhaps one of the most important times of the year for you. Whether you are at the beginning or the end of your student life, you will most likely be trying to get hired for a summer placement, your first job or maybe even on your way to saying bye-bye to University and starting your professional life. It can be an exciting and daunting experience. The job-hunting market can be competitive and you have to know how to put forward your best assets for a potential employer to notice you. Whilst you are busy finishing up your final projects, we aim to help you out with this as much as possible. Your portfolio plays a huge part in this process and by sifting through the World Wide Web, today we bring you the best websites to showcase your work and pave the way for an exciting professional life.

Websites for Online Portfolios

10. Wix Wix has been around since 2006 and has become quite well known over the years. You may recognise this website builder from its SuperBowl advertisement campaign early this year. It provides a simple platform to create a quick and basic website with no coding needed, has tons of templates and is flexible so that you can add personal touches. The unique things about Wix is that they have an App Market and is also one of the few that lets you animate texts and other elements. The downside to Wix is that it does have an ad-free pricing plan and you have to be decisive about your template. If you wanted to change it down the line, you can lose all your content! However, this is a great platform if you want to build a no-fuss, quick and easy portfolio. WATCH >>> Creating a Wix Portfolio: Getting Started

9. Weebly  Over the years, Weebly has improved massively and it is a truly simple site for those of us who are not tech-savvy but still want stylish and modern online space to display our work, maybe share some thoughts in a blog-style format or link to other websites. If you want your own domain name, it is free for the first year but the pricing for the consecutive years is manageable. Weebly sites also give flexibility for viewing with other devices such as on your mobile and tablet. They also have an app that allows you to edit your site on these devices too! WATCH >>> How to Build a Weebly Portfolio Website in 5 minutes or less – Website Builders Critic

8. Carbonmade  Carbonmade is a unique resource that was born out of a need- one guy wanting an easy and affordable place to put his work online. He decided to make it for himself and due to popular demand became a resource for every designer, artist, makers and mothers out there! The pricing plans starts from $6 a month. Just take a look at their handpicked examples and you will see the kinds of stunning online platforms you can create. WATCH >>> Tutorial: How to make a Carbonmade Portfolio

7. Dribbble  Dribbble is like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram combined into one for designers. This is perhaps great for posting “work-on-the-go”, which can then be linked to a bigger platform. The Pro version only costs a mighty $20 a year, which will hardly break your bank account. It is perfect for getting people excited about the work you are doing and testing new ideas, which would be a good to showcase to potential employers as your online sketchbook! 6. Squarespace  Squarespace is great if you want to take an active role in crafting the look and feel of your portfolio website. It is minimalistic and favor imagery much more than text, which is exactly what we want so we don’t make people bored! The great thing about Squarespace is the 24/7 online support that you will need if you ever want to venture into trying to build an online website and have those times when you want to pull your hair out. Their pricing plans range from $5 per month to $70 so you are not short of choices. WATCH >>> How to Build a Squarespace Portfolio Website in 5 minutes or less – Website Builders Critic

3. Dropr  Dropr is a UK-based start-up- self-proclaimed as “the easy creative network”. Again, this is a free platform that is aimed at the creatives to share their work and stay inspired. The process of uploading your projects seems very straightforward, perhaps even more so than the others, using the process of drag and drop. You can also invite others to edit your project, compile all the projects into a single embedded project, which can be shared elsewhere! 5. Behance  Adobe’s Behance is an effective way to showcase your work for free, as well as have this social networking platform. There is also an option to add your previous Work Experience alongside your work. The ProSite offers more options and layout freedom, starting from $9.99 per month, which also includes access to Photoshop and Lightroom. Behance is definitely getting popular amongst many employers and creatives so don’t hesitate to check this one out! WATCH >>> Helpful Tips to create a more successful Behance portfolio

4. Issuu  You may all have heard and used Issuu before. It has definitely been a popular choice amongst students and professionals alike- acting as the platform to publish your PDFs and turning them into flipbooks. They also have a great embedded feature that allows you to post your online books elsewhere. If you want an advertisement free plan, it starts at $29.99, which is a little pricey but the free version will allow unlimited publishing. WATCH >>> Landscape Architecture Portfolio

2. Coroflot Coroflot is different from the others as it is also more of a social network platform. It is perfect for those of you who want to upload your work not just until you get a job but consistently stay inspired, connected and updated. You can connect with other creatives, like their work and also get feedback on your work! You may not get much creative control on the layout of the page but it is still stylish enough to compete with the others. The best part is that it is free- you get free unlimited file uploads! WATCH >>> Coroflot Tutorial

1. Cargo Collective  The unique thing about Cargo Collective is that it is targeted specifically for artists; to get an account you need to apply or be referred. It is probably one of the most user-friendly, straightforward and simple websites. The free version allows you to post 12 projects and the upgrade is $5.50 per month. The layout varies but images are the central pieces of the site, which is effective for showcasing your work. WATCH >>> Cargo Collective: A stunning web publisher for eye-popping content

So, it all depends on what you are looking for. For example, do you want a platform that allows you to share your work easily and consistently? Do you want to spend time building up the portfolio layout yourself, which may be updated every year hence you only need a simple online platform that allows you to upload what you already have? Are you interested in web design and are interested in how to engage employers on the site? Are you looking to stay inspired constantly and network with other creative? The list goes on… With the way the Internet is evolving these days, we suggest to keep updating your portfolio so your online presence is ever more powerful. The great thing about some of the selections in our Top 10 like Coroflot, Dribbble and Dropr is that they allow you to constantly stay inspired and connected, which is a great way to pave the way of your professional career because who knows where your next inspiration might come from? We suggest that you try out a few for yourself and see which one works best for you. Niala Salhi has also written about essential tips to create knockout portfolio, which would make a great follow-up read to your portfolio development process. These days it is almost essential to have an online presence so use platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest so you can spread the word about yourself and your work. If you need some advice on the progress of your online portfolio or website selection, our mentors at the Landscape Architects Network Students Group can give a helping hand. Go to comments Recommended Reading: 

Article by Win Phyo

10 Projects That Put Sustainability at the Forefront of Landscape Architecture

Article by Win Phyo Here’s a list of 10 projects that put sustainability at the forefront of Landscape Architecture. “Sustainability” — boy, have we heard this word a lot over the past 10 years! But it is more than just a buzzword. In fact, the issues surrounding sustainability have provided more opportunities for landscape architects to lead the way toward finding holistic solutions that architects and engineers might not necessarily be able to provide. Basically speaking, landscape architects have the ability to see the bigger picture and understand the complex relationships among our cities, the people, and the natural environment. To demonstrate this, Tania Gianone has given us 10 practices that show how “sustainability” has made the world a better place — and almost all of these practices have a landscape architect playing a major role. Let us take a look at the 10 most inspiring, functional, and successful landscape designs that have really sought to make our environment more sustainable.

Sustainability at the Forefront of Landscape Architecture

10. Atlantic Wharf Park, by Halvorson Design Partnership Atlantic Wharf Park answers the prayers to revive a historical, lively district in Boston, Massachussetts, with clean and functional design solutions. One key aspect of this design was the preservation of the historical buildings relating to America’s colonial times. Forty-two percent of the existing historic structures were re-used, through refurbishment and integration with the modern elements. Another great feature of this design was increasing the green spaces within the area through the addition of extensive green roofs. In fact, the water efficiency of the Atlantic Wharf Park building is also combined with the reduction in irrigation costs through rainwater reuse and the planting of native vegetation. Interestingly, this green roof in particular uses pre-planted modules that also allow for easy access and repair.

Atlantic Wharf Park. Photo credit: Ed Wonsek

Atlantic Wharf Park. Photo credit: Ed Wonsek

9. Vanke Research Centre, by Z+T Studio Shenzhen, China, was once a hilly region with fertile lands, but urbanization has created a growing, modern cityscape. The Vanke Research Centre evolved through this significant change of the land and is a testing ground for sustainable projects. The main goals of the project revolve around ecologically sensitive solutions toward containing and purifying stormwater and recovering native habitats. The result is an exciting series of spaces that allow opportunities to firstly control stormwater runoff, then to purify it. Since it is a testing ground, there are multiple materials used to test their functionality for optimal results. For example, examining the use of turfs vs. bushes to control the flow rate of stormwater or testing out different pervious materials such as bark, ceramics, sand, etc. This is truly an exciting project, and the most exciting aspect lies in the two overarching spaces of a “ripple garden,” which controls the runoff, and a “windmill garden” that enhances the runoff quality.
Vanke Research Center. Photo credit: Hai Zhang

Vanke Research Center. Photo credit: Hai Zhang

8. Royal Neighbour, by Mandaworks Even before the 1992 Global Environmental Conference in Rio de Janeiro, there was a 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden. Royal Neighbour is one of the major sustainable developments to have occurred in the city of Stockholm since that time. The 18-hectare project is full of bold ideas and when finished will consist of three new neighborhoods with distinct characteristics, seeking to meet the six priorities stated in the city’s Environment Program: environmentally efficient transportation, goods and buildings free of dangerous substances, sustainable energy use, sensitive use of land and water, waste treatment, and healthy indoor environment. How do all of these aspects come together? Well, we will have to wait, as this exciting project won’t be complete until 2030!
Royal Neighbour. Image courtesy of ADEPT

Royal Neighbour. Image courtesy of ADEPT

7. Where the River Runs, by PENDA This project was a part of the 10th China International Garden Expo. This project created a big shift in bringing China onto the sustainability ladder with the rest of the world, and its focus was to bring to realization the importance of clean water for the environment and for our health. It is, in effect, a truly great example of raising awareness among people. When they walk through the plot, the paths make people feel as though they themselves are the river. By encouraging them to plant the seeds given to them at certain borders of the plot, they will see the importance of their contribution toward the environment as the seeds sprout during the exhibition period. Underground tanks also collect and store rainwater for irrigation purposes.
Where the rivers runs. Image courtesy of Penda

Where the rivers runs. Image courtesy of Penda

6. The Science and Technical Pole, by Jean-Philippe Pargade This project, located within a 20-minute drive of Paris, was built as a sustainable campus for education, research, and engineering. Social, economic, and ecological challenges around this project were addressed, but what is unique about this project is that it not only addresses these on a site-specific scale, but also seeks to integrate existing cities and communities. The project uses bioclimatic design — which essentially is the creation of a harmonious design of buildings and spaces, indoors and out — based on the local climate, making use of solar energies and other environmental sources.
Espace Bienvenüe: Paris Est. Scientific and Technical Pole. Photo credit: Sergio Grazia

Espace Bienvenüe: Paris Est. Scientific and Technical Pole. Photo credit: Sergio Grazia

5. Burj Khalifa Tower Park, by SWA Group Dubai’s desert climate has extremely hot temperatures, strong winds, and high humidity during the summer. These unfavorable conditions meant that SWA Group had to be highly resourceful to not only create a functional design, but one that is aesthetically beautiful and striking enough to meet the country’s high standards for development. The resulting series of open spaces to complement Dubai’s tallest skyscraper was certainly not a disappointment. Major innovations of the project include using native planting and colorful tiles to complement the short flowering season. Six major water features are made possible by an irrigation system that collects, drains, and pumps condensed water from the humid outside air through a chilled water-cooling system from the tower. That system produces 15 million gallons of water annually, some of which is used in the irrigation of the plants!
Burj Khalifa Tower Park;

Burj Khalifa Tower Park; credit: Tom Fox and SWA Group.

4. Queens Botanical Gardens, by Atelier Dreiseitl This elegant design in Queens, New York, has given the borough’s population the opportunity to interact with nature while putting water management at the core of the building and landscape design within the garden. All features within the garden have been led by the unifying theme of water and its circulation throughout the site, including creating bridges over the water channels that allow people to learn about how the channels function and bring the processes into plain sight. The transparency of the system is what ultimately creates the boldness of this project, serving as a great example of sustainable urban garden design.
Queens Botanical Garden

Queens Botanical Garden Photo courtest of Atelier Dreiseitl

3. Gardens by the Bay, by Grant Associates We are all familiar with this project in Singapore, which essentially started off as a competition entry that has led to an innovative, iconic design that demonstrates sustainable artistry. The two apparent features of this project are the Supertrees and the grid shell-shaped Cooled Conservatories. These structures were indeed based on sustainable concepts, including rainwater collection and reuse, provision of shade, and fans under the walkways to produce air movement. Did you know that the geometry of the Supertrees allows them to function as pipes to remove hot air from the conservatories and increase the flow of fresh air at ground level?
Supertree at Gardens by the Bay. Image courtesy of Grant Associates

Supertree at Gardens by the Bay. Image courtesy of Grant Associates

2. The National Arboretum, by TCL After a wave of fires that destroyed the forests of the Australian mainland in 2003, the 250-hectare National Arboretum in Canberra commemorated the loss through the design of the four existing forests and many gardens. With sustainability at its core to prevent the loss of habitats and the extinction of species, each forest uses a simple, geometrical language and contains 200 to 3,000 trees. The pathways do not interfere with the planting or the natural landform, and the design uses an environmentally friendly irrigation system to supply water to all the plants within the arboretum. Aesthetics came second with this project, and some of the features include a series of sculptures that will over time be discovered within the forest landscape, picnic areas, and the imaginative Pod Playground, which resembles acorns. This project has huge potential to develop over time and its possibilities are unlimited. Its importance cannot be underestimated, and hence the arboretum can be described as a gift for future generations.
The sculptured landforms of the Central Clearing form part of the visitor arrival sequence. Photo credit: John Gollings

The sculptured landforms of the Central Clearing form part of the visitor arrival sequence. Photo credit: John Gollings

1. Solar City, by Atelier Dreiseitl The Solar City Project in Austria was an attempt to bridge the social, environmental, and social perspectives of sustainability at a time when the subject reached its peak in the 1990s. It came about from a need to expand due to population increase. This project is truly integrative and respects the sensitive surrounding riparian landscape while attending to the recreational needs of the residents. From the beginning, Solar City aimed to embrace high-quality architecture and ecological quality. As a result, the mission for the landscape architects was to ensure the design for the residential areas would not harm the protected natural areas. A natural swimming pond, manmade wetlands, and water management systems are just a few of the features within this scheme. A decentralized wastewater purification system was also set up for 88 homes and a primary school, where the waste matter was used as compost and fertilizer!
Solar City

Solar City. Photo credit: Pertlwieser

From public gardens, parks, residential areas, and urban open spaces to a business campus, an Expo plot, and a national arboretum, we can now see that revolutionary sustainable designs can be implemented at various scales. The projects above dealt with energy and water concepts, as well as linking socially by allowing people to understand the design or perhaps even become “one” with the design, such as walking the path of the river in Where the River Runs or making use out of the basic human activity of waste production in The Solar City Project. In addition, the projects demonstrate once more what can be done with ambitious and visionary landscape designs. Teamwork has also enabled an extraordinary degree of quality in terms of architecture, nature development, urban development, and sustainability. Time will only reveal more projects that hopefully will be as ambitious and perhaps even more innovative as technology also gathers its pace. By then, we can start to see how technological innovation can contribute. One thing is for sure: We should never stop designing in the name of “sustainability”! What high profile sustainable projects would you add to our list?  Go to comments Recommended Reading:

Article by Win Phyo

10 of the Best YouTube Tutorials for Drawing Perspectives by Hand

Article by Win Phyo We take a closer look at 10 of the best YouTube tutorials for drawing perspectives by hand Lately at Landscape Architects Network, we have been sharing our finest articles on hand drawing. It is obvious why we have been doing so, isn’t it? We want you to become the best possible designers you can be and become confident in the art of hand drawing. If you are reading this article, hopefully by now you believe that you don’t suck at drawing , know a little thing or two about improving your hand-drawing skills and may even, wait for it, have become a confident artist over the last couple of months! For you folks out there, landscape architecture requires a hefty amount of different technical drawing skills and one of them is drawing in three dimensions. This is a great drawing tool to really bring your design to life and it all comes down to being able to draw in different perspectives. Being the good messenger, we have compiled the best tutorials from our artistic teachers on YouTube.

Drawing Perspectives by Hand

10. How to Understand the Different Components of a Perspective Drawing WATCH >>> Linear Perspective Drawing Lesson 2/6 – Vanishing Points, Horizon Line, Cone of Vision

Did you know that a perspective drawing is a drawing made from the point of view of an observer? Well, to kick things off, in this video, the components of a perspective drawing are broken down, such as “vanishing points”, “cone of vision” and “horizon line”. This is mainly an explanation video with many examples to help you understand the key parts. If you find this useful, you should know that this video is a part of a perspective drawing series that you can explore in more depth. 9. How to tell the Difference Between Many Types of Perspective Drawings WATCH >>> How to Draw in Perspective

This is an incredibly useful video, which describes the different types of perspective drawings. There are the ones we have already heard of such as one- to four-point perspective and aerial perspective. However, there are other uncommon terms that may surprise you such as photo-perspective, perceptive perspective, parallel perspective and reverse perspective. For example, a photo perspective is drawn to look like you are looking into a distorted photo lens. Check out the video to find examples of the rest! 8. How to Draw a Room WATCH >>> Drawing a Room in One-Point Perspective

We can all practice the simplest form of three-dimensional drawing in any room that we are in, right at this moment! Your bedroom, living room, kitchen – these are all great practicing locations and this tutorial will give you good guidance on how to begin, using a one-point perspective. The features in this sample drawing only include a window and a bed, but that leaves you more room to explore with your own furniture! 7. How to Draw an Interior Setting; Public Transport WATCH >>> How to Draw Interior Spaces: 1-Point Perspective

This is a one-point perspective-drawing tutorial that illustrates the interior of a train. The artist talks through the video in a basic way and it mostly involves drawing multiple straight lines, making it easy to follow. This is a great tutorial for those of us who want to practice our sketching skills on the go. 6. How to Draw a City from Above WATCH >>> How to Draw a City in Three-Point Perspective

This video teaches us how we can create a three-point perspective drawing of a cityscape. Again, the sample drawing involves many straight lines so this would be great to practice for those of you living in a big city or visiting one. However, do you think this style of drawing can be used to illustrate our landscape design ideas? 5. How to Illustrate Your own Design WATCH >>>Bridge in the park perspective drawing #2 [narrated] | my own projects. See it here. This is truly inspiring; the artist uses their own design of a bridge in a park to illustrate in the three-dimensional sketch. One useful thing that he suggests is doing rough sketches before choosing the best one to draw in a larger format. You can also learn how to use different pencils to give tonal effects and to strengthen the look of the drawing. 4. How to Draw a Crowd of People WATCH >>> How to Draw People in Perspective

People occupy many spaces and chances are, you will find more than one person to draw in your sketch. Here is a great tutorial on how you can draw detailed and charming characters. The artist begins by drawing simple ovals and shapes before moving on to adding features and clothing, finally finishing off with shadows and pathways. 3. How to Draw Using Many Perspectives in one Sketch WATCH >>> How to draw perspective / perspective and landscapes / #1

More complex drawings require us to combine our knowledge of different three-dimensional drawing techniques to create a dramatic effect. This is an in-depth tutorial on drawing a landscape using one-point, two-point and three-point perspective of different features within the landscape. The tutorial is fascinating and useful for anyone who wants to take his or her skills to the next level. 2. How to Draw More Complicated Features WATCH >>> Drawing tutorial – Perspective | Kurs rysunku – Perspektywa [S02E06 ENG/PL]

This artist’s lesson was also featured in our Top 10 YouTube Tutorials for Drawing Trees and he is back again with another great tutorial on drawing a landscape in perspective. This is a great video to follow and practice your tree-drawing skills also. He uses the minimum essentials of simple geometrical shapes, tones and texture to make this three-dimensional drawing look elegant. 1. How to use the Rule of “Halves and Doubles” to Draw a Naturalistic Landscape WATCH >>> How to draw & paint landscapes in perspective

This artist has a unique approach to perspectives that can be implemented over and over again, particularly when it comes to drawing a natural landscape, like he does in this video, of mountains and waterfalls. It is only a short video but he pretty much sums up the main components of creating a three-dimensional perspective drawing and the end result will blow your mind! Whilst there may be tons of materials out there for you to practice with, it is definitely worthwhile to take a look at the videos above as a starting point. Perspective drawings can be the foundations for the designer to explain their ideas across clearly to a client at a meeting and they can certainly be the foundations for a slick computer render. We hope you enjoy practicing and don’t forget to show off your skills through our Sketchy Saturday Series. The latest series has some awe-inspiring perspective drawings submitted by our readers. Will one of the next groups of chosen drawings be from you? Go to comments Recommended Reading: 

Article by Win Phyo

Top 10 YouTube Tutorials for Drawing Trees

Article by Win Phyo. We take a look at 10 tutorials for drawing trees that will bring life to your sketches and help you communicate your design schemes with more confidence. Trees are awesome! Feel free to disagree with me but who doesn’t love trees? They provide us with shade during the summer months, make us feel peaceful in a park, provides homes for birds and as a landscape architecture student, they are one of the key things I can use to create functional and beautiful designs. They are also the most frequent features we will end up drawing throughout our academic and professional lives. Therefore, whether you are a beginner or a pro, here are 10 YouTube tutorials that can help you capture the most simplistic to the most intricate details of our majestic arboreal friends. I realize that as artists and designers, we all have different styles of expression; hence the videos explore various drawing mediums. What is your style?

Tutorials for Drawing Trees

10. Brush Pen Drawing Tutorial WATCH >>>  How to Draw a Tree With Brush Pens – An Oak Tree – How to Draw Trees


In this tutorial, the artist draws an elegant oak tree using very simple circular scribbles, which intensify in mass to create a sense of 3D (three dimensional) space. He continues by drawing a bare tree trunk with impressive mark-making skills. The finished piece will show you how simple it actually is to make a beautiful drawing. 9. Chalk Pastels Drawing Tutorial WATCH >>> How to draw a tree at distance with pastels


If you like the bright and colorful, this tutorial is for you. A friend of mine loves drawing in chalk pastels so much so that it has almost become her “thing”. Every time she whips out the colorful soft colored chalks to present her design, I am in awe of how effective they can be. This tutorial is a perfect representation of this feeling. The artist starts of with a chunky block of green and just applies layers over different colors to create a simple and colorful tree drawing. 8. Marker Pen Drawing Tutorial WATCH >>> Mike Lin: How to draw a tree with markers


I will assume, at least from my personal experience, that most students own the kind of marker pens used in this tutorial. They are great for rough coloring and can cover a huge area in short amount of time. This tutorial is my personal favorite and I feel it will be useful for us all. Mike Lin shows us a great tip to blend the different marker pens and even adds a bit of pencil and watercolor pencil to the mix. The great thing about this is that the final product can be as general or as detailed as you want. 7. Colored Pencils Drawing Tutorial WATCH >>> Rendering trees using colored pencil


Gone are the days where we used to color our apple trees within the line (mostly) in our coloring book with the colored pencils. If you want to go from block coloring to what I would like to call “dot” coloring, where each color is dispersed throughout the drawing, watch this video. The artist gives a step-by-step guide to render a group of trees by using light to dark colors, starting from a simple outline. 6. Pencil Drawing Tutorial WATCH >>> Drawing tutorial – Tree: simple way | Kurs rysunku – Drzewo: prosty sposób [S02E01 ENG/PL]


Drawing trees with just a pencil can be the most difficult task. However, when you can master the toning techniques, it is a great, lightweight tool to take with you on your travels. This artist uses an abstract technique that breaks the form of the tree down into ovals, which allows you to separate the light and dark areas- what a drawing genius! If other techniques have failed for you, this one may give you hope again! 5. Pen Drawing Tutorial WATCH >>> Linescapes: How to draw a tree II – groups of trees


Trees don’t usually come as individuals. They are most often clustered in a group. This three-minute tutorial shows how to draw groups of trees within a rural-type landscape. The sketcher gives a great tip of representing tree clusters in the distance as a single, two-dimensional volume. Take a look at the short clip to see what else he does! 4. Watercolor Drawing Tutorial This tutorial is a great way to familiarize yourself with different tree forms and represent them as a very simple three-dimensional shape within seconds. I wouldn’t hesitate to try out this technique, as it is so quick to do. Once you have mastered this, you can try out a more advanced tutorial, such as this from the same watercolor artist. WATCH >>> How to Paint Tree Studies in Watercolor – Basic Shapes


3. Aquamarkers Drawing Tutorial WATCH >>> Painting a tree with Aquamarkers – tutorial


I have never come across Aquamarkers, but being a watercolor fan, watching this tutorial, and seeing how versatile the medium was, I would definitely like to give them a try. Coming in third place in this article, it is incredible how a few lines made with these Aquamarkers can be blended with a watercolor brush to give a smooth painting finish. It is easily achievable and in my opinion, should become must-have equipment for landscape architecture students! 2. Pastel Drawing Tutorial WATCH >>> Moody Views trees in pastel


Earlier on, I showed you a tutorial to create a brightly colored drawing using chalk pastels. This one is using pastels in a different rendering technique – more subtle and dream-like. Again, the end drawing looks phenomenal yet I am in awe of how easily anyone can re-create this effect! 1. Pen and Ink Drawing Tutorial WATCH >>> How to Draw Trees | Pen & Ink Drawing Tutorials


This is the most comprehensive, all-around tutorial with tips on strokes, form, and showing light and shadow. If you do not have time to watch all ten videos, I highly recommend this one. Not only is it great for beginners, but instructor Alphonso Dunn truly gives the opportunity to explore different ways of drawing the trees. His approach is unique and can be easily applied when drawing on-site, as well as at your drawing board. – There you have it! After reviewing the above tutorials, you may have noticed that I described many as “simple”; I admit that the mediums may have been different but the level of difficulty did not seem to be so high. You can say that the artists have made it look so easy but I think we can all achieve it and eventually develop our own styles. They all started with scribbles and strokes but ended up with elegant tree drawings. The fundamental thing is the studying of forms and understanding of where the sunlight hits the trees, which of course come from careful observation. Moreover, never give up and don’t forget the power of practice. Why not have a go yourselves and submit it to our Sketchy Saturday series? We would love to see what you come up with! Have you got any tips for drawing trees? Let us know in the comments section below! Go to comments Recommended Reading:

Article by Win Phyo Feature Image: Printscreen from featured YouTube Tutorial | Source

8 Incredible Pools With the WOW Factor

Article by Win Phyo These incredible pools have changed how people think and interact when it comes to people and water. Fancy a dip? The first swimming pool existed 5000 years ago in a Pakistani settlement. The great bath was the earliest public water facility made out of bricks. The history of pools then moved to the ancient Greeks and Romans. As individual wealth increased, so did the standard of living and luxuries like pools were considered to be the ultimate amenity. The Romans definitely knew how to make a splash – in AD 305, they built an incredible pool; over 900,000 square feet in size, which was heated by giant fires in the basement below the pool. Over time, swimming pools evolved and became more mainstream as people began to see that part of the American Dream was to perform a breaststroke in your very own backyard! Now, pools can be found in almost every country; so much so that it is hard to spot the difference between one country and another! Today, however, we will honour the long history in many different cultures and dive into a tour around the world to the most spectacular swimming pools that are worth taking a dip in. Enough with our witty puns – let’s take the plunge, shall we?

1. The Pool at Pyne by TROP Terrain+Openspace

How do you design a sky pool within a concrete jungle that makes a statement? The first in our list is a pool in Bangkok that is situated above a high-end condominium building, designed by a renowned landscape architectural design studio – TROP Terrain+Openspace.

The Forest and Pool at Pyne, TROP Terrains + Open Space

The Forest and Pool at Pyne, TROP Terrains + Open Space

Not wanting to create just another “sky pool,” the designer had the creative vision of not limiting himself to the ground plane of the pool. Instead he played with an overhead skeletal structure and the end result is a pool with a unique geometry and strong presence.
Pool at Pyne, TROP Terrains + Open Space

Pool at Pyne, TROP Terrains + Open Space

2. The Jellyfish House by Wiel Arets Architects

Within a sophisticated beach house in southern Spain lays a swimming pool that exceeds others in construction and design techniques. Without the pool, the Jellyfish House’s character is lost. Why? Because the visual connection of the exposed cantilevered pool glass pool between the interior and exterior parts of the house grants a fluid space, full of iridescent turquoise movements that reflect throughout the entire house. This pool personalizes the house and is a unique experience for both the swimmer and the house dweller.

The Jellyfish House. Photo credit: Jan Bitter

Extending out 9 meters. Photo credit: Jan Bitter

3. + Pool by Play Lab

What if the Hudson River became swimmable? What if we told you it could be a possibility? The guys at PlayLab have worked with other designers and engineers, such as Arup, to make it a possible for you to swim in the City that never sleeps. The plus-shaped pool has layers of filtration system to naturally improve the water condition and the innovative shape creates an open space and four-in-one pool which allows for competitive swimming, playing and lounging! This is a one-of-a-kind unique invention that ought to be implemented and you can help make it a reality by visiting this page but for now, why not check out the link to see what could be waiting for you the next time you visit New York City?

How the +Pool may look at night. Credit: PlayLab

How the +Pool may look at night. Credit: PlayLab

4. Mirage Residence Pool by KIOS Associated Architects

This pool doesn’t just make up the rooftop of the Mirage residence, it is the roof of the Mirage residence! The design of the house disappears quietly into the landscape just as the pool disappears out onto the horizon. The concept and construction of the pool deals with the illusion of seamless infinity and serenity.

Mirage-Infinity-Pool

An overview of the infinity pool. Credit: Kois Associated Architects

As if the third largest island in Greece couldn’t get any more beautiful, the designers’ thoughtful and sensitive design considerations have made this place truly fascinating.

5. Swimming Pool Design by Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools & Landscaping

A wealthy amateur violin player and collector-homeowner in New York deserves nothing less than a pool which resembles an exact scale replica of a Stradivarius violin from the 1700s with all of the intricate, beautiful details. The pool consists of fibre optic lighting elements which bring its violin features to life, complemented by plantings, two koi fishponds, and a spa and river flow jet system. The design in itself is an art piece with great construction details, once again used to maximize the aesthetic and experiential qualities of the pool.

Violin Swimming Pool; image courtesy of www.njcustomswimmingpools.com

Violin Swimming Pool; image courtesy of www.njcustomswimmingpools.com

6. Vinterbad Brygge Winter Baths by BIG

Winter swimming is a popular thing in Northern Europe and the Harbour Baths in island Brygge in Copenhagen are a successful landmark and facility that allows both summer and winter swimming for water-loving city dwellers. The pool has long wooden promenades that resemble the decks of a passenger ship, and a diving tower which looks like the tip of the ship itself. This infamous unique oasis, since its opening, has given the Copenhagen Harbour a new green image.

Vinterbad Brygge. Photo credit: BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

Vinterbad Brygge. Photo credit: BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

7. Bassil Mountain Escape by Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture

To infinity and beyond! Bassil Mountain Escape is a vacation house in Lebanon that was built to get away, far away, from our busy stressful lives and encounter a peaceful environment that helps us relax. This is one of the main purposes of a water element in landscape architectural design and our interaction with water is a huge help. The clever design of the pool is made up by the illusion of the infinity by extending the design out of the site’s boundary with a cantilevered water mirror and floating stepping-stones, which lead users out to the bar below.

Bassil Mountain Escape.

Bassil Mountain Escape. Photo courtesy of VLADIMIR DJUROVIC LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

8. Laurel Way by Whipple Russell Architects

This special residence in Beverley Hills uses the water’s edge as an organic perimeter to break the connection between the outside environment and the house. The three-storey building has a majestic water feature on its lowest level – a small water channel, which becomes a spectacular pool and Jacuzzi through a quick change in the width of the waterway, that creates a barrier whilst maintaining spatial continuity. The water element, fittingly, absorbs into the terrace style design with certain elegance that defies the commonplace.

Laurel Way by Whipple Russel Architects

Laurel Way. Image courtesy of Whipple Russel Architects

Pool designs over the centuries have become normalized and we see repetitive and simple rectangular flat surface designs plastered all over our towns and cities. The examples above are pools of real substance – these are the ones that make us feel proud to call ourselves landscape architects and architects because the boundaries of the designs are being pushed further and further to constantly give new depth, dimension, and meaning to an historical pool element that was merely for sacred purposes in the past. We hope you enjoyed our short tour – let’s hope we will see more spectacular pool designs in the years to come that break the old boundaries. Do you know of any other pools that deserve to be on the list? Let us know in the comments below! Go to comments Recommended Reading:

Article by Win Phyo

Do you Dare to Venture on the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk?

Article by Win Phyo Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, by Donaldson and Warn, in Denmark and Walpole, Southern Ocean Coast of Western Australia. Do you know about the long-lost era of Gondwana? There is a unique piece of the Earth on the South Ocean Coast of Western Australia that provides a window to the past. To access this land, one must embark on a 600-meter-long Tree Top Walk, designed by Donaldson and Warn, which ventures among a grove of more than 400-year-old giants. One hundred and eighty million years ago, present-day South America, Africa, Arabia, Madagascar, India, Antarctica, and Australia comprised a supercontinent. Imagine this time of the Jurassic period, when the land was covered in lush rainforest and dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. The land in this part of Australia is a piece of this past, being home to one of the oldest groves of Eucalyptus trees — the tingle tree forest — where planting origins trace back as far as 65 million years ago.

Valley-of-the-Giants-Tree-Top-Walk

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Image courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk

Using no helicopters or cranes, construction to create the Tree Top Walk began in 1995 as a way to protect the forest. Visitors can enjoy the interpretive experience of fantasy, science, and awe by walking 40 meters high among trees that range in height from 40 meters to 80 meters in what we now call the Valley of the Giants. The simple design was the solution to a complicated context and matrix of challenges that were environmental, political, aesthetic, historical, and cultural in scope. How do you enhance a tourist destination that is home to some of the planet’s oldest trees while taking into account the above challenges?

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Photo courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Photo courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

The Need for a Design Solution In 1994, the increase of tourists visiting this destination made the sensitive eco-system present in the forest vulnerable to damage. The state government department, which was responsible for the management, wanted the designer to create an educational phenomenon that would attract more tourists, yet create minimal damage and produce a large economic return.   “The purpose of construction was to minimize the impact of humans on the tingle trees”   The purpose of construction was to minimize the impact of humans on the tingle trees. It was important during construction that everything was built with minimum use of machines. No helicopters or cranes were used in the process; the work was done by riggers who used scaffolding — how impressive! Steel pylons were first erected, then stabilized by guy wires and topped by a circular lookout platform.
Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Photo courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Photo courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

Design Inspiration Inspiration for the pylons came from the tassel flower (Leucopogon verticillatus) and sword grass (Lepidosperma effusum), which are understory plants of the tingle forest, with their slender, spreading forms. The pylons were made to oxidize over time, blending in to give a transparent aesthetic and sensation of swaying through the forest.   …allowing explorers to meander and look into the near and far distances…   The pylons are linked by trusses, which support the boardwalk and are framed by metal balustrades. The result is a sensitive sculptural element within the landscape, weaving through the forest and allowing explorers to meander and look into the near and far distances.
Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Photo courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Photo courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

It is also encouraging to see that the disabled can also undertake such an experience, as the Tree Top Walk is wheelchair accessible. Plant Life and the Climate Much of the plant life in this forest is unique to this region. For example, the tingle trees are restricted to a very small area around Denmark and Walpole, the two coastal towns in southwest Australia where there is a high annual rainfall of more than 1,200 millimeters. In contrast to other parts of Australia, the region has minimal impact from climate change and is characterized by well-drained, gravelly soil, a low nutrient content, and hilly terrain. As such, the forest is abundant with food sources for native animals and is also home to relict spiders and snails from Gondwanan times!
Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Photo courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Photo courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

Tree species include red tingle (Eucalyptus jacksonii), yellow tingle (Eucalyptus guilfoylei), marri (Corymbia calophylla),  and karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor). These have a base circumference of up to 20 meters. The trees have a shallow root system and rely on surface humus for nutrients, making them vulnerable from people walking too close to the base.   ..visitors are like birds – getting a bird’s eye view of the majestic trees, inspiring tranquility to the flock…   It is very easy to be rendered speechless by the towering forest — walking this high up in the treetops is a different experience for visitors of Western Australia’s southern forests. Many of us are used to viewing things at about at least two meters above ground level. Here, visitors are like birds – getting a bird’s eye view of the majestic trees, inspiring tranquility to the flock.
Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Photo courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Photo courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

The walkway is lightweight, allowing you to imagine yourself soaring above ground at your own pace. It is also a humbling experience to get to walk among some of nature’s giants, as the Tree Top Walk provides quiet spots to reflect on the special nature and unique ecosystem of the tingle forest. The journey is long enough to gain a different perspective on the shapes, sounds, and movement of the forest, as though the journey is a fantasy.   “The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk had attracted 2.1 million visitors by 2007”   The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk had attracted 2.1 million visitors by 2007. Will future generations get the same chance to experience this destination? Let’s face it — all tourism projects have an impact on the environment of a place. However, the important role of an eco-tourism project is to educate visitors about reducing the impacts and fostering a greater appreciation of the natural habitats. Other canopy walks around the world are constructed using a suspension bridge kind of structure, which we have all seen online and perhaps been lucky enough to experience, and they are not for the faint-hearted. The Tree Top Walk, however, has proved itself to be secure, even for wheelchair access and the elderly. Perhaps now, the only question we can ask is whether you think the bridge structure is architecturally successful in resolving the environmental, political, aesthetic, historical, and cultural matrix of challenges? Let us know in the comments below! Go to comments
Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Photo courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Photo courtesy of Donaldson and Warn

Full Project Credits For The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk:

Project Name: Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk Location: Denmark and Walpole, Southern Ocean Coast of Western Australia Designer: Donaldson and Warn Structural Engineers: Ove Arup Client: Department of Environment and Conservation, Western Australia Length of the Walk: 600 meters Height of the Walkway from the Forest Floor: 9 meters to 40 meters Construction Period: 1995- 1996 Cost: $1.8 million Learn more about Donaldson and Warn: Website: www.donaldsonandwarn.com.au Recommended Reading:

Article by Win Phyo Return to Homepage

5 Odd Things You Should Know Before Taking a Dip in King’s Cross Pond

Article by Win Phyo King’s Cross Pond Club, by Ooze Architects, in London, UK. Welcome to King’s Cross Pond Club – a natural swimming pool born from the collaboration between Netherlands-based Ooze Architects and Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrc. This alliance has resulted in a unique practical swimming facility that is also a beautiful landscape feature. It is situated in the heart of King’s Cross regeneration area and as you might have guessed already, it is not your typical swimming pool. Now, there are many other peculiar things associated with this pool that break down habits of stereotyping and will possibly make you reconsider the notions of what constitutes an artistic design project.

The King's Cross Pond Club

The King’s Cross Pond Club. Photo credit: John Sturrock

The King’s Cross Pond Club

1. It is in the Middle of a Construction Site The area north of King’s Cross station has been redeveloped, since 2007, into a vibrant new city quarter. As a way to celebrate the industrial heritage of this area and its future, as well as to ease the inconvenient disruptions, a number of contemporary art projects have been popping up throughout the venture’s duration of nine years. King’s Cross Pond Club is the final installation of the programme.

The King's Cross Pond Club.

The King’s Cross Pond Club. Photo courtesy of Ooze Architects

When it opened to the public in May 2015, visitors passed through the brick warehouses, the cranes and the rubble. Essentially, this is an intentionally juxtaposed position for urbanites who come to swim knowing that they will be exposed in a rough and noisy kind of surrounding.
The King's Cross Pond Club

The King’s Cross Pond Club. Photo credit: John Sturrock

The King's Cross Pond Club

The King’s Cross Pond Club. Photo credit: Jacqueline Andrews

2. It is More of an Art Installation Than a Swimming Pool The partnership of Ooze Architects and Marjetica Potrc has created this pool with artistic resonance. In fact, it is titled “Of Soil and Water,” highlighting the importance of soil and water – the two natural resources that we are highly reliant on yet take for granted. The small-scale project is seen as a “living laboratory” that tests and questions the balancing, self-sustaining system of one natural cycle: the water, the land and the human body.
The King's Cross Pond Club.

The King’s Cross Pond Club. Photo credit: John Sturrock

Ooze Architects explains that the creation is all about having a dialogue between nature and the city:The aim is communication with the visitors, describing the balance of man with nature, and the balance of living in a sustainable city”- Eva Pfannes, Ooze Architects This juxtaposition of a purely natural installation against the urban environment is obvious. The experience for the visitor is to become a part of the ecosystem. The swimmers become actors onstage, performing a balancing act of co-existing with nature. This dialogue becomes even more striking when the exposure becomes more palpable – seeing the site workers in goggles, helmets and gloves in the surrounding building site whilst the half-clothed swimmers perform a primitive act.
The King's Cross Pond Club.

The King’s Cross Pond Club. Photo credit: John Sturrock

It is the participation in this art installation that the architects and the artist find so fascinating. Since the pool is natural and works by using plantings as natural filters, there are rules swimmers have to follow to respect that natural process. This makes them aware that it is a fine relationship with limits; hence it is as much about giving participants an intellectual awareness as well as a sensual experience. Nevertheless, the swimming pool will only be there until the end of 2016 as it only has planning permission for two years.
The King's Cross Pond Club.

The King’s Cross Pond Club. Photo courtesy of Ooze Architects

3. It Follows the Current Trend of London Joining into the Natural, Open-Air Swimming Pool Craze Of Soil and Water is actually one of a number of trendy swimming projects in London. Studio Octopi has secured funds on Kickstarter for Thames Baths and plans to resurrect Peckham Lido are underway. However, neither of these will offer the experience of dipping in the water with the backdrop of construction cranes. This project is unique in that respect and could really convince not just the public but also those in authority, such as the planners, of its practical functions and for the value of natural swimming becoming a standard practice in the UK. 4. Human Skin Helps the Pool Flourish We are used to water being chlorinated. However, chlorine is a disinfectant which kills everything. Yet here is a natural system filled with oxygen and cleansing bacteria. There are three parts to the pool: a swimming zone, a regeneration zone and a filtering zone. Simply speaking, the Biotop system, developed by Austrian natural swimming pool developers, filters any particles bigger than 0.3mm, killing algae that can contaminate the pool but allowing through healthy zooplankton for the plants in the gravel beds such as water lilies and waterweed.
The King's Cross Pond Club.

The King’s Cross Pond Club. Photo courtesy of Ooze Architects

The King's Cross Pond Club.

The King’s Cross Pond Club. Photo courtesy of Ooze Architects

Other planting in the filtration zone includes iris, water mint, marsh marigolds and purple loosestrife. These filter plants release oxygen from their roots that attract bacteria which break down pollutants and eat other bacteria. Did you know that humans also play a role in this natural process? Our skin contains certain kinds of nutrients that plants like to absorb. It is all about balance and the natural cycle. Hence, the system can only allow for 163 pool users daily to protect the system’s capacity and not to disrupt the fine balance.
The King's Cross Pond Club.

The King’s Cross Pond Club. Photo credit: John Sturrock

5. The Project Fails to Fall Under any Category But that is a good thing! Can you say “King’s Cross Pond Club” is an art project, an architecture project or a landscape project? Or is it urban placemaking? The multidisciplinary and layered approach of this scheme is one that takes us beyond the classifications of the last century. The project addresses many different issues hence it doesn’t seem to exclude any creative profession. In a way, this is what the project is all about. It is about celebrating the heritage whilst embracing the new. Our society is complex because we are beginning to live in a more multifaceted world and it is important that we can all handle this change.
The King's Cross Pond Club.

The King’s Cross Pond Club. Photo credit: John Sturrock

King’s Cross Pond Club provides a simple experience that makes a point about our interaction with nature. The project might seem small in size and peculiar in its context for now, but this could well be the beginnings of something revolutionary! If well-used, it may become a long-term feature within the development. What about yourself: would you take a dip in the “pond”? Let us know in the comments below! Go to comments
The King's Cross Pond Club.

The King’s Cross Pond Club. Photo courtesy of Ooze Architects

Full Project Credits For The Natural Bathing Pond by Ooze Architects

Project: ‘of Soil And Water’: The King’s Cross Pond Club Project Description: Natural Bathing Pond And Its Landscape Location: King’s Cross, London, UK Area: 2200m2, 400 M² – Pool Client: King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership Curator: Stephanie Delcroix & Michael Pinsky Designer: Ooze Architects and Artist Marjetica Potrc Natural Pool Consultant: BIOTOP Austria Project date: May 2015 until the end of 2016 Authors: Ooze (Eva Pfannes & Sylvain Hartenberg) And Marjetica Potrč Curator: Stéphanie Delcroix & Michael Pinsky Project Manager:  Ian Freshwater – Argent Llp -UK Qs: Gardiner & Theobald – UK Water Engineering: Biotop & Planungsbüro Wasserwerkstatt – Austria Structural Engineering: Arup – UK Utilities Engineering: Hoare Lea And Peter Brett Associates – UK Specific Pioneer Landscape: Rita Breker-kremer & Stefanie Strauß – D Participatory Workshops: Global Generation – UK & Landscape Maintenance Monitoring: Central Saint Martins – Students Of Spatial Practices Department – UK Operation: Fusion Main Contractor: Carillion – UK Technical Drawings: Bd Landscape – UK Natural Pool System: Biotop – Austria Pool Contractor: Kingcombe Aquacare – UK Hard & Part Soft Landscape: Willerby – UK Groundworks: Galldris – UK Other Water Systems: Cameron Lonsdale – UK Outbuilds: Setworks & Houston Cox – UK The Authors Would Like To Thank: All Clear Access, Townsend Landscape Architects, Ald, RLSS Anna Strongman/Argent, Ken Trew/Argent, Steve Alderson/Argent , Rosie Cade/Argent , Nick Foster/Argent, Amanda Buckley, Rebecca Bennett/Argent, Hannah Alderton/Argent, Megan Youell/Argent, Alan D Sowden/Carillion, Steven Windless/Carillion, Graeme K Tucker/Carillion, Brad Henderson/Carillion, Des Smith/Willerby, Jane Riddiford/Global Generation, Paul Richens/Global Generation, Ciara Wilkinson/Global Generation, Robert Townshend, Tim O’hare, Christine Fent & Gilma Wendt, François Cassin. Learn more about Ooze Architects: Website: www.ooze.eu.com Recommended Reading:

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The Magic Green Carpet That Will Bring Out The Art Critic In You

Article by Win Phyo Green Varnish, by Nomad Studio, in St. Louis, USA It is not unusual for art and landscape design to cross paths. Many artworks convey a powerful message in an abstract manner that can create a conflict of opinion, a source of discussion or a new perception. Landscape design can be used as a tool, or as a canvas, to deliver a message of some kind that can, in many ways, enhance the design. So, how would an example of art and landscape design translate in reality? Green Varnish by Nomad Studio is a site-specific green space, which is part an art installation and part social interpretation that has breathed new life into the 200m2 courtyard in Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), St. Louis. In fact, it is alive. Like turning a new page in a book, the living green carpet installation is curled up and hovering in the air- ready to take action. Nomad Studio is known for creating radical and innovative proposals that foster a dialogue between the user and the environment. This is no different.

Green Varnish. Photo credits: David Johnson

Green Varnish. Photo credits: David Johnson

Green Varnish

The Outer Appearance

As you walk through the gallery space of CAM or have your coffee in the café, you will come across Green Varnish from the inside. Beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows and amongst the greys and whites of the concrete and gravel surfaces, it dominates the space and looks expansive.

Green Varnish. Photo credits: Jarred Gastreich

Green Varnish. Photo credits: Jarred Gastreich

Stepping outside, you can see it standing in the courtyard, pushing users to the edge, inviting and provoking a feeling of being near nature. The café chairs placed on the edge add to this drama of expansiveness.
Green Varnish. Photo credits: David Johnson

Green Varnish. Photo credits: David Johnson

The concrete wall that partially encloses the courtyard space has the phrase: “We live in denial within vanishing landscapes,” which makes you realise Green Varnish has a message to tell, but what exactly? Throughout the day, there is a poetic sequence created by sunlight, casting shadows over the architectural structures overhead, that animate the installation. This feeling of still movement creates some kind of uncertainty.
Green Varnish. Courtesy of Nomad Studio and Contemporary Art Museum of Saint Louis

Green Varnish. Courtesy of Nomad Studio and Contemporary Art Museum of
Saint Louis

The installation viewers at the outside become a part of the installation for those looking from the inside. The details of the installation are simple and elegant. It is made out of two elements: architectural poplar base and vegetated layer of sedum. There are approximately 16 varieties of 6,000 specimens of sedum. Sedum is a resilient perennial that is drought resistant and can tolerate hot summers. It requires little to no maintenance.
Green Varnish. Photo credits: Jarred Gastreich

Green Varnish. Photo credits: Jarred Gastreich

Green Varnish. Photo credits: Alex Elmestad

Green Varnish. Photo credits: Alex Elmestad

It is not uncommon to have prefabricated planting for artistic installations and in this case, it was also grown off-site by contractor Sempergreen before getting it delivered on site. The installation is low enough for you to observe each succulent in detail, but you must resist the urge to hop onto the magic green carpet. The overall effect is simplicity and formal purity. The green breathes life into the concrete surrounding and evokes different sensations. In the physical sense, the installation satisfies our primal need to be in the natural surrounding. The use of the materials may suggest heaviness but the overall experience suggests lightness, bursting with energy and relaxed in manner, opening itself out in a questioning manner.
Green Varnish. Photo credits: David Johnson

Green Varnish. Photo credits: David Johnson

Beneath The Coat of Varnish- The Meaning Behind The Project

The project title, Green Varnish, gives us the clue to the underlying meaning of this project. To put varnish on a surface is to apply a glossy coat. In the same way, the installation covers the lifeless monotone courtyard with a green carpet.

Green Varnish. Photo credits: David Johnson

Green Varnish. Photo credits: David Johnson

Coming back to the inscribed quote on the wall, Nomad Studio is making a gesture against society’s tendency, of human habit, to conceal the distressing facts about our deteriorating environment:Deep inside the collective awareness, it is clear we need to overcome major changes in order to cope with climate change. Currently, our response is completely reactionary and we mainly express it in two different manners: pure rejection or some form of green shift that enables us to continue business as usual.” So, what is it about the collective societal behaviour that is bothering the designers? From example, because of varying changes in temperature and rainfall, our landscapes are failing to operate to their full capacity, and Nomad Studio comments that their ecological structures will naturally go under transition to a different landscape “in search of a new ecological order.” This is an organic process made up of interconnected natural systems and environmental services, that we depend upon, whose main function is to maintain life.
Green Varnish. Photo credits: Jarred Gastreich

Green Varnish. Photo credits: Jarred Gastreich

However, in seeing this change, the human habit makes us react in ways of intensive restructuring that create cultural and territorial rigidity, inadaptability and fragmentation, opposite of the flexible and adaptable qualities that make up a resilient system. The need to control the uncontrollable or politically covering up the inconvenient facts with a false layer of beauty, such as the “greening trend”, will only make us lose perspective of our role in the larger system that we belong. In other words, human activities may be altering the natural regulations of the ecosystem to the point of no return.
Green Varnish. Courtesy of Nomad Studio and Contemporary Art Museum of Saint Louis

Green Varnish. Courtesy of Nomad Studio and Contemporary Art Museum of Saint Louis

The Second Part of The Dialogue

Green Varnish was de-constructed in September of this year but the conversation continues. As a part of a two-year commissioned project, Nomad Studio will install a second piece of the story- an installation named Green Air, in summer 2016. Green Air will occupy the same 200m2 courtyard, but will be the opposite of a floating green carpet. Instead, it will be a hanging garden made out of the same wood from Green Varnish with hanging air plants like Tillandsia, creating a different spatial experience altogether. This purposeful inversion is to make a statement that, what was hidden will become exposed. Could this mean Green Air proposes a more optimistic future or the point of no return? WATCH: Nomad Studio: Green Varnish

Green Varnish is a minimalistic artistic piece that, from the outer appearance, does not seem like it had such a deep layer of meaning. However, instinctively, one can see that it made a strong statement. Art, as always, is strongly subjective and we can be certain that all of you will have had different reactions to the piece itself or the deeper meanings. As an installation, do you like the way it was made? Do you agree with the statement Nomad Studio is making? Or is it another drama that is added to the art world? As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments below! Go to comments

Green Varnish. Photo credits: David Johnson

Green Varnish. Photo credits: David Johnson

Full Project Credits For Green Varnish

Project Name: Green Varnish Landscape Architect: Nomad Studio Location: Washington Avenue, St Louis, USA Area: 1150 ft2 Project Year: June-September 2015 Consultants: Iria Perez and Assoc., LIA Engineering Assembly Team: Collab – Portico, Green Roof Blocks Get Social with OSLO Urban Design and Landscape Environment: Website: www.thenomadstudio.net Twitter: www.twitter.com/thenomadstudio LinkedIN: www.linkedin.com/in/laura-santin-0aa56226 Instagram: www.instagram.com/thenomadstudio Recommended Reading:

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The Navy Yard Central Green Shows us How to Achieve Healthier, Happier and More Industrious Workers

Navy Yard Central Green, by James Corner Field Operations, Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Towards the end of June, the Navy Yard in Philadelphia unveiled its sixth park addition to its expanding office campus. James Corner Field Operations has debuted a strong addition to Philly’s expanding simple but effective public spaces. If you didn’t know already, the 1200-acre Navy Yard is a dynamic urban development promoting business growth and smart energy innovation. The vision for the campus is concerned with creating environmentally friendly workplaces, industrial development, public spaces, residential development, and remarkable architecture.

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

Navy Yard Central Green

What was once a closed military facility is now becoming the region’s most progressive and vibrant business locations and Central Green Park is the perfect amenity to match. The 4.5-acre park will also be complemented by 1200 Intrepid, a $35million office building, which is the first building in Philadelphia to be designed by starchitects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The Master Plan of Navy Yard focuses on having a mixed-use campus based around historic preservation, sustainability, and smart growth. In this article, we will take a look at why the ideas and features embedded in Central Green are a notable example for creating successful businesses.

Navy Yard Central Green

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

Historical Preservation

At the first glance, all you can see is a series of circular shapes of green. Where does the simple shape arrangement come from? The overall spatial design is related to the site’s historical landscape condition. In fact, hundreds of years ago, the area was a marshland with pockets of planting and water. The circular segments are therefore celebrating the original designs of Mother Nature!

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

Work-Play Environment

Realistically speaking, many of us spend a huge chunk of our time in a workplace. Most of our interactions take place here too. The success of a workplace depends on healthy, happy, productive, and innovative employees. So what can the 11,000 and growing workforce of Navy Yard do in order to achieve this? They would need spaces for relaxation and escape, for exercise and recreation and Central Green provides this.

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

Variety is the Spice of Life

This is how James Corner Field Operations aims to achieve the best quality workforce. It seems this lucky workforce has choices. The circular park division is seen to have separate outdoor rooms that each holds a purpose and in total creates a multi-purpose space. The zones are an outdoor expression of many creatives of today and allow the space for creative expression. The uses include a fitness station, an amphitheatre/”sun lawn”, a hammock grove, bocce courts, ping-pong tables, a communal table, and a “bio-basin” for stormwater.

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green

Bocce Courts at Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

The Inclusion of the Amphitheatre

The only building in the park is an outdoor amphitheatre. Permeable paths of greys and warm tones offset the circular spaces. A 2-mile long, 6-meter wide “social track” contains most of the main spaces, completed with wood and metal lounge chairs and benches.

Philadelphia Navy Yards

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

Philadelphia Navy Yards

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

Achieving the Right Social Balance

Areas for active recreational play vs. areas that create opportunities for quiet gatherings are nicely balanced. For example, the site’s language is enhanced by the use of a long X-shaped table for picnics and meetings. Nearby, a cluster of yellow hammocks are threaded between a grove of conifers that allow for a restful refuge. Lawns also offer breathing room.

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

Philadelphia Navy Yards

Conference tables at Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

The Bold Use of Yellow

Another recognizable feature is the use of yellow, which pops out with an energizing effect. Every opportunity is grabbed to use this cheerful yellow: from the clusters of Adirondack chairs on the lawns to the ping-pong tables, moveable bistro tables and fitness zone equipment.

Ecologically Sound

All of the above would seem a little bit superficial if the park did not demonstrate an environmentally conscious thoughtfulness. Luckily, this is not the case. Sustainability was one of the key driving forces being the Master Plan of Navy Yard. Within the park, in total, there are 304 trees, 10,025 shrubs, 42 types of groundcover and 13,600 bulbs. Areas of pervious surfaces allow for the facilitation of water filtration and the expansive-looking spaces subtly change from wildflower-covered mounds to the dips of the stormwater retention pond. The overarching objective of the whole Master Plan also includes looking into the production and storage of green energy.

Philadelphia Navy Yards

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

Philadelphia Navy Yards

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © James Corner Field Operations

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

Planning for the Future

These good design practices are fundamental to build Navy Yard as a place for innovation, entrepreneurship and environmentalism. The vision that has been set for the whole area has been one similar to Garden Cities; to build a sense of a cohesive mixed-used village integrating jobs and residents.

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © James Corner Field Operations

Efforts to build this sort of genuine neighborhood is underway: the goal in the next 15 years is to achieve 30,000 employees, 13.5 million square feet of commercial real estate and 1,000 residential units. The continued development of Navy Yard is seen as a vital piece of the puzzle to aid the economy of the city, the region, and to set a blueprint for future development.
Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Halkin Mason Photography”

“…a place we want to be in, not a place we have to be in”. As a green space, Central Green exemplifies the physical expression of the visionary goals set out for the whole of the Navy Yard. Here, we see a transition from the dull cubicle working lifestyle to an urban oasis within a commercial zone that boasts a great quality of life. When we look at the pictures of Central Green, we feel like it is a place we want to be in, not a place we have to be in. This makes a massive difference. At its best, Central Green will be a place that encourages unexpected interactions, collaborative opportunities, and balanced well-beings. More and more ambitious companies are moving towards creating such a robust and dynamic workplace. Navy Yard has definitely gained an edge over many of them. Don’t be shy, tell us what you think about this project – Go to comments
Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green

Philadelphia Navy Yards – Central Green. Credit: © Courtesy of Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation

Full Project Credits For Navy Yard Central Green

Project: Navy Yard Central Green Location: Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA, USA Design Team: James Corner Field Operations (Landscape Architects), Environetics (Architectural and Structural Engineer), Larry Weaner Design Associates (Horticulture), Pennoni (Civil and Utilities Engineer), Tim Craul (Soils Engineering) Design Director: James Corner, RLA, Founding Partner Project Manager: Sarah Weidner Astheimer, Senior Associate Project Designer: Matt Grunbaum, Associate, Kimberly Cooper, Associate, Sanjukta Sen Size: 5 acres Role: Public realm design Budget: $7.4 million Completion: Summer 2015 (June) Client: Liberty Property Trust Website: www.fieldoperations.net Twitter: www.twitter.com/fieldoperations Instagram: www.instagram.com/fieldoperations Recommended Reading:

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Mediterranean Terrace Provides Inspired Living in Italy

Mediterranean Terrace, by Studio S.O.A.P, in Alassio, Italy.The traveler returning from Italy, with his eyes and imagination full of ineffable Italian garden-magic, knows vaguely that the enchantment exists.” – Edith Wharton Italian gardens, full of fantasy and sensory delight, have never failed to inspire artists and designers throughout the centuries. Travelers who have ever visited Italy share the feeling described by Edith Wharton, and upon viewing the Mediterranean Terrace by Simone Ottonello, we are transported back and forth between the 15th and 21st centuries, realizing that it is not just to foreign designers that Italian Renaissance gardens provide inspiration.

Before and after sequence. Photo credits: Simone Ottonello

Before and after sequence. Photo credits: Simone Ottonello

Set in Northern Italy

Set just a few miles from the French border in the town of Alassio, on the western coast of Liguria in Northern Italy, what was once a basic, flat surface has been unrecognizably transformed into a terraced garden with immaculate views onto the Mediterranean Sea. Italian Renaissance gardens are inspired by classical ideals of order and beauty, allowing users to savor the sights, sounds, and smells of the garden and to contemplate the garden and the landscape beyond. The Mediterranean Terrace appeals to these ideals, yet remains true to our time through the introduction of modern elements and functions.

Photo credit: Simone Ottonello

Photo credit: Simone Ottonello

Understanding The Italian Style

The classical Italian style of the garden terrace can be deduced from the symmetry and geometry. The geometric design in the old Italian gardens often features walls with a central fountain. The boundary in the Mediterranean Terrace arises from elegant metal fencing and low walls, but geometry arises from the building façade in which the outside living area corresponds to the inside living area, and the outside dining area corresponds to the inside dining area.

Photo credit: Simone Ottonello

Photo credit: Simone Ottonello

UPON REFLECTION, we can see that such an arrangement also follows the concept of symmetry. This is reflected in the symmetry of the wood and stone pavement — the geometrical arrangement of the pavement pattern sits in the central terrace, and each of the chosen planting species is replicated on opposite sides to form this perfect symmetry in harmony. In such a garden style, nature is quietly redesigned and tamed — an antithesis of a classical English garden. Other Articles You May Also Like: 

Photo credit: Simone Ottonello

Photo credit: Simone Ottonello

A Fascination With Water

Old Italian Renaissance gardens also show a fascination with water — the mechanics of the supply of water, the beauty it adds to a garden, and the fun to be had in drenching unsuspecting visitors. Although there are no such fountains to be found in this terrace garden, we find a swimming pool on the top terrace, complete with sun beds — fittingly created for the relaxation of 21st century Italians.

Photo credit: Simone Ottonello

Photo credit: Simone Ottonello

The intention of placing a water element on the top terrace deters from the historical central arrangement, but there is a magical and modern quality that arises from such a decision. It is also a practical decision that takes full advantage of the brilliant, hot sunlight for keen sunbathers.

Planting on The Mediterranean Terrace

In the Mediterranean Terrace, plantings are never too far away. The chosen planting species are evergreen and fragrant in all months of the year. The top terrace with the swimming pool features plantings that intimately border the edge. The shrubs appear to be at the same level as the pavement. This is because the steel vases that hold them are under the deck and concealed in a clever manner. Recommended Reading:

The plants are meticulously chosen for specific purposes, like actors having specific roles in a play. Tall plants are used to provide privacy from the other buildings. In areas where one can appreciate the panorama, shorter plants have been arranged. Take a look at the shaded shelter on the terrace dedicated for dining, which features plantings that hug the edge of the corners to elegantly frame the views. Reference to old Italian gardens is also made through the plant selection: There are Cypresses as columns, Phormium as fountains, and boxwoods as spheres.

Photo credit: Simone Ottonello

Photo credit: Simone Ottonello

THE COLOR SCHEME is also carefully selected. Agapanthus and Plumbago flowers reflect the color of the sofa seating in the middle terrace and recall the hue of the sea. The designers have specifically chosen their favorite colors of white and blue for use beside the warm, beige-yellow tones of the terrace. They have also designed the lamps and vases within the terrace, carrying forward the strong design concept through to the tiny details.

A Magical Transformation 

The garden has been transformed from a blank, single terrace overlooking the vast panoramic view to one with three levels, each specifically dedicated for a function: dining, outdoor living area, and swimming pool with sun beds. At first glance, the Mediterranean Terrace looks like a modern terrace set amongst the surrounding seascape and townscape. It looks simple, yet enchanting. Why is that so? It is not because the Italian weather reveals bluer skies and richer vegetation. Recommended Reading:

IN FACT, WE DON’T SEE A VAST VARIETY OF VEGETATION, and the symmetrical, geometric effect produces repetition, which could be described as dull and monotonous. However, the enchantment comes from the impressions the designer has left upon the terrace garden, with a thoughtful and concise manner in the carefully chosen and crafted details. The delicately crafted works of Italian gardens are what make them magical. The Mediterranean Terrace allows for simple contemplation and viewing, and it also allows for a closer study of details that are in harmony and in balance with one another.

Photo credit: Simone Ottonello

Photo credit: Simone Ottonello

Full Project Credits For The Mediterranean Terrace, by Studio S.O.A.P

Location: Alassio, Itlay Designer: Studio S.O.A.P, Simone Ottonello Landscape Architect Consultant: Arch. Carlo Berio and Ing. Bruno Martini Lighting: E2000 Decking: TeakWoodSA Swimming Pool: Silver Piscine Gardening: Michelini Garden Services Size: Around 140m2 Website: www.soapstudio.com Recommended Reading:

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