Author: Erik Schofield

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Kiryat Sefer Park, Tel Aviv, Israel by Ram Eisenberg

Once in awhile, a great design comes along that creates a physical plane that boosts a community’s already strong spirit. So it is with Kiryat Sefer Park in Tel Aviv, where a spark of nature has not only livened up the built environment, but created a platform for successful community collaborations with landscape architects.   The area was once a garage for the Tel Aviv police, with 12,000 square meters of parking lot, bare ground, and a few large Eucalyptus trees from the British mandate. The unique part of the story of its transformation is that the community started to call it a park even before it became a park.

Vicinity map of the project site

Vicinity map of the project site

For many years, every Friday afternoon after the parking lot emptied of cars, the community would gather to have picnics. It became a playful place for children to dig and discover old pipes, pieces of wood, and building parts — despite the fact that the space had no park-like features — it was just a plain parking lot. People began to work to turn the space into a proper park, holding demonstrations and circulating petitions. Their efforts were not wasted. Landscape Architect Ram Eisenberg was able to combine that strong community spirit and a passion for nature to transform this already loved piece of land into a lively community hub of a park. He explains: “The project was initially called ‘Ecological and Democrat Park’– this was what the community had wanted to call it. I tried to create something that was ecological and democratic, so reusing materials is something very ecological, and the whole issue of involving the community is also democratic. I think there is something deeper about the connection between ecology and democracy. Democracy is a king of ecological thinking in the social process — it deals with letting many forces interact between them. It is the same as what is happening in nature, where everything is in a relationship with everything else. If you look at the social realm, I think democracy is what puts relationships at the forefront of its culture.”
Children playing during the participatory process

Children playing during the participatory process

Having grown up on a kibbutz — a collective socialist agricultural community in Israel — Eisenberg reinforced what he already knew from his early years about working with communities and understanding the issue of “collaborative creativity” to carry out an elaborate participatory design process with the community. It is this importance of “ecological well-being,” as he describes, that allowed him to implement features that work sensitively well together. Once a day, water in an elevated fountain overflows, rising out and making a peaceful journey across paths through the middle of the park before flowing into three biological pools, one after another, that filter the water into a beautiful waterfall into a pond of recycled materials, plantings, and wildlife. The upper part of the park is densely planted for birds to nestle in its wilderness edge.
Construction process

Construction process

In order to not lose the feeling of discovery that had once existed within this previously derelict site, Eisenberg came up with the idea of letting the local children and adults make treasure blocks — contained within would be “artificial fossils” that if found under the sands, were theirs for the children to keep or to bury again: This allowed the park to have a feeling of being part of something much bigger than man. It allowed people to have their own fingerprint in the park, which they can then take care of and love.”
Kiryat Sefer Park

Kiryat Sefer Park

Kiryat Sefer Park

Kiryat Sefer Park

Kids making treasure blocks

Kids making treasure blocks

What a joy it must be for the children to absorb themselves in this flow of natural elements and surprising discoveries. Eisenberg’s idealistic nature and the local community’s vision have combined to create a beautifully visual and stimulating park design. Kiryat Sefer Park abolishes the boundaries of age and profession — it is a good example of what can be achieved when many creative and passionate brains come together. Article written by Win Phyo Enjoy what you’ve read! Support us and pick up one of our awesome T-shirts and hoodies today, Click the link

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Sketchy Saturday Top 10- No.001

This Top Ten showcases the most beautiful, intriguing and inventive sketches by our some of our talented LAN (Landscape Architects Network) readers. Our previous article discussed the pros and cons of digital and hand drawings. Since then, our readers have definitely been busy with their hands for our “Sketchy Saturdays” series.  Here is the big top ten: No. 10 by Ira-Anna Antonopoulou and Viki Mpania “This sketch is part of a proposal project about Lake Koronia. Since 1996, the area has been under severe environmental stress with the gradual drainage of the lake and destruction of the surrounding ecosystem. Since 2004, the projects have been based on studies assigned to experts for improving the implementation of the agro-environmental program.”

From land_arch_studio in Larissa, Greece, by Anna Antonopoulou and Viki Mpania

From land_arch_studio in Larissa, Greece, by Anna Antonopoulou and Viki Mpania

No. 9 by Cobi van Kollenburg from the Netherlands “This drawing is about an existing square in an old city in The Netherlands (Haarlem). The square is full with cars and all kinds of obstructions. Through the drawing I have given the space its identity and intimacy back. In my drawing it’s a place for the people who live around the square. A place for life: for sitting, relaxing, talking, playing, having a picnic…”
Drawing from Cobi van Kollenburg, The Netherlands

Drawing from Cobi van Kollenburg, The Netherlands

No. 8 by Lydia Bradshaw from Australia “Sketching with ink is not only a hobby I’ve practiced for the past fifteen years, but above all, a release from my 9-5 job. I love the challenge of drawing outdoors and capturing a moment in time using as much detail as possible. Even though digital art is becoming more and more prominent, I will never escape the satisfaction of bringing a drawing to life on paper.”
Drawing of a park in Mainz, Germany by Lydia Bradshaw from Australia.

Drawing of a park in Mainz, Germany by Lydia Bradshaw from Australia.

No. 7 by Anne Münstermann, landscape architect, Germany “This sketch is a classic two-dimensional view, getting a three-dimensional effect by overlapping and shading. Views are a great addition to floor plans, if the height situation is not too complex. People, furniture and vehicles in a drawing illustrate dimensions and drawings can appear lively. The view was drawn with fine-liner Staedler and Pentel Sign Pen and then colored with copic markers and crayons.”
Drawing from Anne Münstermann a landscape architect from Germany who studied in Höxter, Germany.

Drawing from Anne Münstermann a landscape architect from Germany who studied in Höxter, Germany.

No. 6 by Predrag Kovacevic from Belgrade, Serbia “It’s a fictitious project that represents a path of 2 meters and a plateau, area approximately 100m², containing facilities for children and benches. They’re connected by stairs and paved with quarry stone plates. Surfaces are surrounded with a combination of coniferous, deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. This task is supposed to coordinate construction skills with horticultural knowledge.”
Drawing from Predrag Kovacevic,from Belgrade, Serbia, studying landscape architecture at Faculty of Forestry, Belgrade University.

Drawing from Predrag Kovacevic,from Belgrade, Serbia, studying landscape architecture at Faculty of Forestry, Belgrade University.

No. 5 by Preston Montaguea, landscape designer at Stimmel Assoc. in Winston-Salem, NC. “The Geyser Garden is a landscape design created for a residence in downtown Raleigh, NC.  The client, a geologist who recently moved from Wyoming, wished to celebrate the grandeur of Yellowstone National Park in her tiny urban yard. Heated by a wood-fired stove and employing a system of pumps and ultrasonic foggers on timers, the Geyser Garden suspends reality through a connection to some of nature’s most colossal forces.”
Drawing from Preston Montaguea a recent graduate of the MLA program at NCSU, who works as a landscape designer at Stimmel Assoc. in Winston-Salem, NC.

Drawing from Preston Montaguea a recent graduate of the MLA program at NCSU, who works as a landscape designer at Stimmel Assoc. in Winston-Salem, NC.

No. 4 by MOX landscape architects from St.Petersburg, Russia “This sketch has been made for Mox landscape architects private English-style garden project in St.Petersburg, Russia. The project is in progress at the moment, we expect it to be completed by mid 2014.  In Russia hand-made sketches are prevailing in visualization of private gardens, while for public spaces landscape architects mostly use 3D computer graphics. Russian private gardens deserve special attention as many of them are as opulent and glamorous as their owners.”
From MOX landscape architects from St.Petersburg, Russia. Sketches made by their lead architect Yury Fomenko.

From MOX landscape architects from St.Petersburg, Russia. Sketches made by their lead architect Yury Fomenko.

No. 3 by Panitan Pramoon from Thailand “I drew this landscape that is situated in the Northern Thai Temple, in Thai Lue Park, like a traditional wall painting. The sketch shows the old road that exists in between with the magnificent trees surrounding the buildings.”
Drawing by Panitan Pramoon of Thai Lue Park

Drawing by Panitan Pramoon of Thai Lue Park

No. 2 by Bernardro Lee “It is a sketch of a HDB (Housing and Development Board) at Ang Mo Kio, Singapore. One afternoon, I was sitting next to my window, looking at the beautiful shadow casted on the building and ground and those swaying trees. I just couldn’t stop myself to capture it through drawing. I was trying to capture the relationship between lighting, shadow, architecture, and landscape in this sketch. In my opinion, landscape and architecture are not two separate studies.”
From Bernardro Lee, from studiozerodegree.

From Bernardro Lee, from studiozerodegree.

No. 1 by Site Concepts International “This sketch is from a package our company (Site Concepts International) made for a mountain resort in the beautiful high ranges in Northern India. The concept of Mahindra Mountain Resort” is based on a “sprawling garden Mountain Resort”. A natural English community/ resort style park setting, that emphasizes both adventure and relaxation. It is a vacation resort, with villas and a clubhouse within a mountain resort setting.”
From Rey Villegas, a Landscape Architect from Singapore.

From Rey Villegas, a Landscape Architect from Singapore.

Many thanks to our readers for sharing your drawings with the world. This Top Ten and all the rest from our Sketchy Saturdays Series are solid proof that hand drawing is definitely not lost and forgotten! We hope that as time progresses, you keep those pens, pencils and brushes alive whilst continuing on with your new digital drawing ventures! This first “Sketchy Saturday Top Ten” was complied by LAN writer Win Phyo.  If you, a friend or even your company wants to enter for the next “Sketchy Saturday Top Ten”, then they should send in their sketches to us at office@landarchs.com To scan your sketches you need high quality scanner, we recommend  Canon CanoScan 4507B002 LiDE110 Color Image Scanner Article by Win Phyo Enjoy what you’ve read! Support us and pick up one of our awesome T-shirts and hoodies today, Click the link

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Trouble in Istanbul: Save Gezi Park

Upheaval and chaos has been intensified this past week in Istanbul as devoted Turkish citizens protest against the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park, one of the few green spaces left in Istanbul’s city centre. The young and the old come together, occupying the park singing songs, dancing, reading and even planting new trees in an effort to stand against the inconsiderate decision made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to turn the park into a profitable shopping mall. The Catalyst The police have been using tear gas and water cannons as the main weapons to break up the protesters as they gather in “Istanbul’s last public green space.”  Protesters, in an effort to stop trees being taken down, had camped out, only to find police burning down their tents in the early dawn on May 30th. As major cities around the world are doing what they can to increase their green spaces, Turkey are getting rid of it for more cement and shopping malls. As cities work to preserve their historic districts, Istanbul ploughs (literally) ahead with crass disregard for the welfare of its citizens.

Gezi Park protests in Istanbul. Civilians coming together after the Gezi Park and Taksim Square were left by police June 8, 2013, Istanbul, Turkey. ;credit: fulya atalay / shutterstock.com

Gezi Park protests in Istanbul;credit: fulya atalay / shutterstock.com

The events at the Gezi Park might have started with the protection of trees planned to be bulldozed, but they reveal much about the recent urban planning of Istanbul as well as global capitalism. Istanbul had seen worrying street action the past months already.For example the movement against the demolishing of the historical Emek film theatre was met by water cannons and tear gas.  In less violent news to do with public space, new legislation restricts retail sales of alcohol during the night and bans selling of alcohol near mosques. Threats Besides urban space, natural space has been another target. The plan to build a third bridge over Bosphorus has been fiercely criticised by a range of environmental organisations for its clear madness,In addition to the massive felling of trees, such building projects, including the new airport set to open in 2018 are a threat to the water resources of the area.
Plans to build on Gezipark led to anti government unrest on June 1, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey; credit: Faraways / shutterstock.com

Plans to build on Gezipark led to anti government unrest on June 1, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey; credit: Faraways / shutterstock.com

Future? The protest towards saving Taksim Gezi Park goes beyond saving this rare green space left in the city. This protest is a roar of anger from the people of Istanbul wanting ownership of the land that they live in. Injustices like this occur widely and repeatedly throughout many countries where their government’s short-sighted actions end up hurting people; and in this case, the environment. The future of this park rests on this one man alone. How far will this go? How long will this go on?  Aren’t there other ways for protesters to demonstrate their dissatisfaction? Most importantly, surely there is a better way for Istanbul’s government to respond to the protest. The unpredictability of the lives of the Turkish citizens here and now is as unstable as the survival of Gezi Park. Article written by Win Phyo Featured image:  fotostory / shutterstock.com

Pocket Parks: Why size doesn’t matter

In a hope to create greener communities, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson has come up with a plan to create “100 tennis court sized pocket parks” in the city. Like all urbanized cities, the need to make them more environmentally friendly has become so much of an issue that creating miniature pocket parks are a quick, easy and enticing option. Moreover, in a trend that is gaining momentum throughout the country, a growing number of communities in the United States are establishing tiny parks in an effort to drive registered sex offenders out of town. Although more and more cities are becoming eager to create pocket parks, more thought needs to be put in on the purpose, use and character, not just for the ease of the size. You only have to look at the very successful and thriving Paley Park, a timeless pocket park in New York (the city where this trend began), to realize the social and ecological impacts pocket parks can have on the surroundings.  It exists as a peaceful “sanctuary” and is treasured by all.

"Creative Commons   Paley Park on a cloudy, chilly late winter afternoon". By Jim.henderson  licensed under CC

“Creative Commons Paley Park on a cloudy, chilly late winter afternoon”. By Jim.henderson licensed under CC

Here are some important guidelines that should be considered before deciding to create a lasting oasis of green: 1) Secure the community’s commitment The more inclusive the decision making, the more successful the park will be. Think about those in the neighborhood– is there someone who is an expert gardener, someone who knows what’s going on at every block? Pocket parks are a community space and this consideration should be paramount. Involving people in the process is much more engaging than bringing in those who know nothing about the area or the community. 2) Choose a site Think about how the site will be used and be site-specific–any empty lots just won’t do! What kinds of improvements are needed? Keep in mind how much the neighborhood can realistically take on to address issues such as the creation and maintenance of the plan and to make sure the space suits all expectations.
"Creative Commons   Levi Plaza Fountain, by Dmadeo, licensed under CC 3.0

“Creative Commons Levi Plaza Fountain, by Dmadeo, licensed under CC 3.0

3) Plan There are no set designs for pocket parks. Each one is different depending on the size and use of the space, but space is usually restricted and user needs will be varied throughout the day. A few trees and seating just may not be enough! 4) Secure long term and short term funding Not all neighborhoods have a lot of money to invest in such projects. Looking at various resources for funding such as money from businesses avoids having a limited amount of money for maintenance in the future. Long term funding such as corporate sponsorships mean the neighborhood will save money to cover for necessary repairs. 5) Pursue consistent engagement Just as maintenance is a never-ending job, so is everything else involved. Pocket parks should not become neglected over time. Ongoing communication with the neighborhood is vital to keep everyone interested and involved in the development and changes that take place. As with any new parks or recreation innovation, there are challenges. In the end, size does not matter when one tiny plot becomes loved by all. Therefore, its purpose should strive to provide maximum benefit to the community as a whole. For those involved in such projects, let’s strive towards the design of pocket parks being as thoughtful and provocative as large parks! Article written by Win Phyo

Is Drawing Dead?

It’s an exciting time to be a designer or developer, and a growing number of new touch-screen tools to make the work more fun are being released every day. It’s like being a kid in a candy store! Given the rapid pace of technological change, individuals with careers deeply immersed in the visualization of design concepts increasingly have the freedom and necessary tools to explore all the new possibilities that tablets, software, and apps have to offer. Which is why we’re asking the question “Is Drawing Dead?” what will become of the hand skills that have formed the basis of our profession, with everything and everybody geared to towards fast and accurate results. Digital Graphics Pros: 1) Accuracy Needless to say, software programs can translate practical measurements to high visual accuracy without having to fuss with the time-consuming act of measuring with a ruler! 2) New Technology-New Possibilities These days, new software such as AutoCAD WS enables you to view, edit, and share AutoCAD drawings with anyone, anywhere using your mobile device. Tablets are also becoming increasingly popular. For example, Wacom’s drawing tablets try to mimic the experience of drawing on paper. Some students say this kind of mimicry allows their ideas and drawings to be more “visionable”.

3D rendering; credit: shutterstock.com

3D rendering; credit: shutterstock.com

3) Forget Paper! No more fumbling with awkward paper plans and laptops; the onslaught of so many planning and drawing apps and tools expedites the process of creating perfect structures. Cons: 1) New Technology is Seductive We can easily become bedazzled by what a program can do and forget to insert our own individuality. This is a trap for producing robotic, similar designs. 2) Lack of Spontaneity Every program requires us to learn the technical “how-to” processes before being able to execute our ideas visually. This can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. So, where does hand graphics fit in this process? The ability to express yourself as a designer using a pen on paper is an essential emotion of thought — from your brain to the paper. The key word that I’m hanging on is process; that hand drawing is an essential expression of the design process. Hand Graphics: Pros: 1) Control As you use your hand, you gain great control over your own movements, which in turn benefits your vision. Creativity becomes a process that is not inhibited by the boundaries of software programmers but by your own self-expression. 2) Preserving the Human Touch A great drawing has many layers that go beyond technical skill and captures the unique touch of the designer. That in itself is special and should not be lost as we advance toward a more technological age.
Hand drawing by Amaury Neto

Hand drawing by Amaury Neto as featured in Sketchy Saturday

3) Increase in Observational Skills What is the depth of the object? How is it standing, moving? What kinds of details are there? What you observe as you draw and the thoughts that conjure from the process can make you appreciate the life within your designs and help you see the relationships between different features in the physical environment. Cons: 1) Unpredictability Let’s face it — your hand is not a mechanically trained tool. Your drawings may not always turn out the way you envisioned in your head. You have to be prepared to go with the flow; this unpredictability can be an exciting thing. However, your unpredicted outcome requires flexible adaptation. 2)     No Undo Button There’s no undo button if you mess up, especially when drawing in other mediums besides pencil. This might become problematic in larger, important drawings. Hand Graphics vs. Digital? I find that a balance and understanding of both is necessary to be a competent designer in our fields of practice. Ultimately, where we work, what our company culture is, how we execute, are all factors that will determine how we create and what is appropriate for our space. Drawing isn’t dead. It’s evolving. There are certainly differences in how you interact with a watercolor brush or a charcoal pencil or a computer. All I’m saying is those differences are essentially negligible when looking at what designers do for a living. So, if you are a young designer who aspires to be a principal designer someday, I strongly recommend that you develop your sketching ability at the same time you’re playing around with computer visualization. Both of those skills should be fully integrated, with a strong conceptualization and three-dimensional visualization ability. For a great book on hand drawing check out our review of Freehand Drawing & Discovery by James Richards Article written by Win Phyo

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