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How the Watermark Seaport is Helping Boston Reclaim its Ecology

Article by Irene Crowo Nielsen – Watermark Seaport, by Copley Wolff Design Group, in Boston, MA, USA. The Watermark Seaport is located in Boston’s newest coveted neighborhood for the live-work-play lifestyle. It is definitely not your average transformation area. The developer brands it with three words; Unrivaled, Unobstructed & Unconventional. “This is the nucleus of the neighborhood: a marriage between Fort Point Channel and the innovation of the Seaport District,” says Charley Leatherbee, executive vice president at Skanska, who developed the building. Meet the Watermark Seaport, a 17-story luxury residential tower and a 6-story loft consisting of 346 apartments, 25,000 square feet of retail space, and two levels of below-grade parking.

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

A future-oriented project featuring rainwater filtration and green roofs, with a special focus on providing the building’s tenants with high-end, useful and flexible outdoor amenity spaces. Did I mention that it also achieved LEED Gold certification in February of this year?

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Copley Wolff Design Group is responsible for the design of the streetscape, an alley entry corridor, and two roof deck amenity spaces that eventually lead to a LEED Gold certification. How did they approach the landscape design to help achieve this, you might wonder?

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport

A Rainwater Infiltration-based Streetscape

In these days, words like “stormwater runoff”, “urban ecology”, “rainwater infiltration” and “permeable surfaces”, just to mention a few, are popping up everywhere and are becoming more and more important to include for a successful landscape design and for achieving LEED certifications, or similar certifications depending on what country you live in.

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Copley Wolff Design Group have an extra focus on this in their landscape design to be able to achieve LEED certification for the Watermark landscape project. Starting with the streetscape around the building, it can be divided into three zones; a furniture zone, pedestrian zone and a frontage zone.

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

The frontage zone is adjacent to the roadway curb and contains a permeable precast unit paver strip. There are large tree pits with structural soil, aeration, and concrete paving. The frontage zone also contains bike racks, signage, parking meters, native plantings, and traffic utilities. The furnishing zone has pervious pavers to infiltrate rainwater back into the earth, taking strain off the overworked stormwater system. The street trees utilize captured roof runoff, stored in a large underground cistern, and therefore embraces all the current urban planting technology in an effort to ensure longevity of urban ecological systems.

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

The pedestrian zone is a dedicated walkway, and it is paved in light-colored concrete. The alley leading from the street, from Autumn Lane to the street, and Seaport Boulevard make up a car-free environment and have green walls and green vegetation buffers to maintain a certain privacy. When walking down the alley towards Seaport Boulevard, there are horizontal rafters and a retail terrace with retaining walls, stagger planting, seating areas, and large shade trees adorned with lanterns.

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Two Green Roof Deck Amenity Spaces

Moving up into the building, you will find that the green roof decks are located on the 18th floor and on the 2nd floor between the Tower and the Loft buildings, providing the residents with incredible protected views of the Boston Waterfront and downtown Boston skyline.

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

On the 18th floor, Copley Wolff Design Group have designed outdoor dining and gathering areas for the buildings occupants and planted a series of 8-inch-deep, pre-vegetated green roof trays containing a mix of native and adapted ornamental grasses, perennials, and sedums (which also contributes to the building’s aim to achieve LEED Gold Certification).

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

The 2nd floor amenity terrace is designed as an extension of the indoor lounge and entertainment rooms used by the buildings residents. One can also find a planted zone with hardy sedums and a platform space designed with shaded trees. By using green roofs with sedum, Copley Wolff Design Group managed to achieve the many benefits of green roofs which include managing and migrating of storm water run-off, reducing the heat island effect, reducing heating and cooling needs, and at the same time create potential for urban agriculture and providing wildlife habitats.

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

In addition to being green roofs, both decks are also furnished with lounge chairs, grilling stations, dining tables, contemporary outdoor couches, high-top tables and stools, and built-in wood seating throughout. There are also active zones for exercising. The residents have everything they need and more!

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

A Mark of Distinction

LEED Gold certification was targeted from the early beginning of the Watermark Seaport. Landscape design and maintenance are factored into the scoring system. Copley Wolff Design Group helped achieve the LEED certification by designing green roofs, planning drainage channels to diffuse rainwater, figuring out grading plans, and using local plants that require less water, just to mention a few of the specific ways to earn points on LEED projects. One building at a time, the Watermark landscape project is helping to change the landscape of Boston by providing environmental and ecological benefits to the building while also creating appealing urban green spaces for everyone to enjoy. Have you ever worked with earning LEED points?

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Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Watermark Seaport. Photo courtesy of Copley Wolff Design Group

Full Project Credits For Watermark Seaport:

Project Name: Watermark Landscape Project Design: Copley Wolff Design Group Location: Boston, MA, USA Size: 25-acre Date of Construction: ongoing Awards: LEED Gold certification Developer: A joint venture between Skanska and Twining Properties Architect: Stantec Recommended Reading:

10 Urban Plant Choices to Create a Bee-friendly City

Emily Sinclair – Read this article if you want to learn some top plant choices that can be implemented for a bee-friendly city. There are many factors to consider when planting for a bee-friendly city. After all, you want the garden to be enjoyable for the bees, but also for yourself. This will look different depending on who you are and where you live. Some places to consider engaging in some bee-friendly plantings could be your existing garden, your balcony or window boxes, and even your lawn. The Honey Bee Conservatory has outlined the different ways you can encourage bee activity in your garden, including providing spaces for them to burrow – an often overlooked component of the bee’s lifestyle. In planting, you want to avoid highly hybridized plants as they are bred to produce far less pollen.

Create a Bee-friendly City

The same is true for plants with double flower tops, so stick with the singles for maximum production. Also important to keep in mind is that you want blooms for as many months as possible, so plant a variety of species that will bloom successively throughout the growing season. For blooms in the early spring you want to start with plants such as the following: 10) Crocus (Crocus spp.) When planning your bee-friendly city you must consider including this early bloomer. Planted from bulbs, these can easily be planted in the fall for a spring bloom. These little blooms are almost guaranteed to be the first sign of spring no matter what your climate. Choosing between the shades of blue, purple, white, and yellow gives you lots of options with this flower and the low-growing nature of this plant lends itself well to ‘natural’ plantings as opposed to more structured beds. Plant these bulbs in lawns and throughout your gardens for a quick burst of colour at the beginning of the season. Crocuses can also be grown in containers with very good results so feel free to add these to your balconies and window boxes. The blooms are very short-lived, usually only lasting two weeks, but enjoy these as they appear for they mean spring is near.

Will crocus find its way into your bee-friendly city. Image licensed under CC 0.0

Will crocus find its way into your bee-friendly city. Image licensed under CC 0.0

9) Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) Something to keep in mind when planting in urban areas is that space is often limited. Some grow in their backyards and are able to have sizeable gardens. Others have plots in community gardens which still offer lots of space for numerous plants. However, when planting on a windowsill or balcony, double-duty plants are key. One great plant option that delivers a lot is the chive. Small in size and completely edible, this herb’s flowers are very attractive to bees in a bee-friendly city. This perennial should be cut back 3-4 times in the first year and monthly in the following years according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. This plant loves the sun though, so be sure to find a spot with maximum amount of sunlight for it to call home and you will have blooms as early as May.

By Jerzy Opioła - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

By Jerzy Opioła – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

8) Calendula (Calendula officinalias)

The calendula will offer you bright blooms over the course of the summer, lasting much longer than some of the other plants on this list. The blooms tend to be yellow or orange and stand on stems 12-24 inches tall. These flowers will grow in most conditions and are not very fussy, making them easy additions to the garden in terms of maintenance. In terms of structure, you will find that the daisy aesthetic of the plant makes these an interesting focal piece or a good choice for background colour, given its height. Watch out for insects with this species though; aphids love these flowers so be sure to watch and treat with your preferred method upon sight. In the summer you can rely on blooms such as the following to keep your plantings looking fresh.

By Aiwok - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

By Aiwok – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

7) Hosta (Hosta)

Hostas come in all sizes making this a fun plant to add to most gardens or spaces. The large, distinctive leaves will make for a charming addition to the garden even outside of the bloom period. Keep in mind though, bees are not the only animal attracted to this plant. The hosta is a favourite of many deer so if planting in an area frequented by them, be sure to undertake deer-proofing measures. Hostas love the shade though, so if you live in a particularly shady area this might just be the plant for you.

CC BY-SA 3.0

CC BY-SA 3.0

6) Bee Balm (Monarda)

With a name like that how could we not add it to the list? Another shade lover, the bloom of the bee balm plant comes out in the summer and stays until fall. Its jaunty petals create a decidedly spiky look to the bloom. The plant itself grows up to two feet wide and four feet tall, although dwarf varieties are available, it also provides blooms in colours ranging from red and blue to white. Bee balm is also known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds so expect this one to bring lots of life to your garden. Bee balm is also deer-resistant and drought tolerant, making this an excellent choice for some of those more difficult areas.

By Kor!An (Андрей Корзун) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

By Kor!An (Андрей Корзун) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

5) Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

Another great container plant, thyme will bloom throughout most of the summer, attracting bees – especially honeybees – to your garden with ease. The herb is especially useful in the kitchen and since harvesting the leaves of this plant only encourages more growth you can be assured that you will always have plenty. For those of you planting in yards and open spaces – the creeping thyme plant makes an excellent ground cover. Thyme loves sun so keep this one somewhere where it is sure to get lots of it. This lovely, delicate-yet-hardy plant will show small white flowers throughout the summer. As it grows you will also be treated to the strong aroma of the thyme plants so sit back and enjoy.

By Kor!An (Андрей Корзун) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

By Kor!An (Андрей Корзун) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

4) Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)

Sometimes known better as coneflowers, depending on the company you keep, this flower will bloom typically between June and October. These plants prefer partial shade during excessively hot periods although be sure to plant them in an area that also gets sun at some points during the day to encourage blooms. If you want a second bloom in the fall, try deadheading after the first flower. These flowers will not only attract birds, butterflies, and bees but also are favourites of some types of beetles which are natural predators of the aphids that will be attracted to some of your plants. These also tend to be deer-resistant so plant without fear. The blooms of these plants tend to be purple or pink in hue, adding a bright pop to your late summer gardens. Finally, for the fall blooms. With winter just around the corner you do not want to leave out the fall blooms. Not only will they keep your spirits up as the days begin to shorten but they will provide one last burst of food for the bee population in a bee-friendly city

By H. Zell - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

By H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

3) Asters (Aster spp.)

This small, daisy-like flower will begin blooming in late summer and continue throughout the fall. Asters are an excellent source of ground colour in the autumn and the bloom is available in hues ranging from white to purple to blue. They require very little in the way of maintenance and can easily be started from seed. Stay away from the more modern hybrids though, as they will have less pollen production than the older varieties. Stick with ones like the white Woodland Aster (Eurybia divaricata) or the purple New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae). Due to the wide flower, there is plenty of space for bees to land as well, the pollen and nectar are not hidden away deep in the flower. Since some bees come equipped with a shorter tongue, some with longer ones, the Aster will be able to feed both bee types easily. This attribute is perfect for the colder months as there will be less food available to the pollinators.

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

2) Sedums (Sedum, spp.)

Sedums can be an excellent addition to your bee-friendly city with many varieties to choose from, most boasting an extremely hardy nature. Sedums are very useful – and especially charming – in rock garden settings, they are very tolerant of sun and poor soil conditions. Overwatering can hurt these plants so let them be and enjoy the greenery – and other colours – they bring to otherwise inhospitable conditions. With hundreds of species of sedums available on the market you will be able to find something with the plant architecture that fits with your garden type. Plants vary from filler varieties to groundcover to colourful statement plants.

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

1) White Clover (Trifolium repens)

If you have ever considered swapping your lawn for an alternative, odds are you have heard that clover is an excellent substitute for the green grass lawn. The long-tongued bees will love the alsike and red clovers but the short tongue of the bumble bees will not be able to reach into these clover species. Instead, opt for a white clover, as the florets are more shallow, if you want to cater to a larger spectrum of bees. The white clover is a rapid spreader, making it a perfect choice for meadow or lawn locations. Make sure to do your research if you decide to change your lawn to this alternative, since clover has different water and fertilizer requirements than a typical lawn. The flowering clover will be approximately 4-8 inches tall during its bloom time, keeping a low profile which can still be mowed if needed. If the clover look is something you want in your balcony or window box you can still grow these in containers and, of course, if you keep them close there is no chance that someone else will find that four-leafed clover first.

By H. Zell - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

By H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

There are many plants out there that bees and other pollinators enjoy. The plants on this list are by no means exhaustive. If you do plan on planting any of these plants though, check out the local conditions. Many of the plants on this list are good for hardiness zone 3 and higher, based on the USDA map of hardiness zones and will not always work for all conditions. Have you had success in planting a bee-friendly city? What plant species have you tried, and how well have they worked?

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Stranden | How to Enhance Outdoor Sociability in a Simple Way

Article by Maria Giovanna Drago – A review of Stranden by LINK Landskap, 2014 Oslo, Norway. The city of Oslo is located in the innermost point of the homonymous fjord. One of the districts which overlooks the water is Aker Brygge, the most in-style area with its numerous pubs, restaurants, apartments, and shopping centres. Way back in 1854, the shipyard Akers Mekaniske Verksted was located here and the engineering industry expanded until 1982, when it went out of business. From there, the district began a major change with the opening of the first stores and a phase of urban development following that which has made it an important meeting place, teeming with people both day and night, especially during the summer months.

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

Stranden by LINK Landskap

Telje-Torp-Aasen Architects had won the architecture competition for the redevelopment of the neighborhood in 1985, with the intention to transform it from industrial area into liveable neighborhood. In particular, the redesign of the external urban areas was entrusted to the study 13.3 Landskapsarkitekter, today LINK Landskap. They themselves had the wonderful opportunity to modernize the area 30 years later, especially the waterfront, and to be part of a multi-stage project led by Space Group Company and Ghilardi + Hellsten.

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

The waterfront promenade, known as Stranden, and the new marina were inaugurated in 2014, while the main square, Bryggetorget, and the roads that connect the waterfront to inland areas were completed in a second phase which ended a year later. The seafront was lengthened to 12km and is a long and public promenade that runs from northeast to southwest, connecting the ferry dock to the Aker Brygge marina. The area is both pedestrian and vehicular, but accessible to only a few vehicles, for example, those that provide services to the restaurants. It looks like a long band characterized by two types of flooring: light wood and grey granite.

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

LINK Landskap architectural firm aimed to design a social place with a simple idea; making it look like a big and long square, substituting the tarmac road in front of the restaurants with the same paving as the new adjacent sidewalk. The pavement study thus assumed a key role, along with the furniture design.

The Paving Design

The paving granite characterizes the walk. There are three types; rectangular large modules, medium modules, and circular compositions of small cubes. The first identifies the sitting and relaxing zone immediately facing the sea where orange seats are located, the second upholsters the shared area between the buildings overlooking the promenade and the sitting zone, and lastly, the third type is exclusively for vehicular roads within the district.

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

After the sitting area and the orange seats, there is a sloping wooden space with a path for strolling, around 3m wide, and 6 steps leading down to the sea. The paving granite design on the ground is inspired by ancient Roman techniques, but it has been revised to adapt to current needs of production and installation, as well as to the terrible winter temperatures that can drop to 25°C below zero.

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

The Furniture

The architectural team collaborated with Vestre, a leading Norwegian company in street supplies, and Tveit & Tornøe, also a Norwegian design firm, to design the street furniture. All of them together have developed various types of seating, mainly made of pale wood and orange lateral details, which enhance ease of use and social interaction. For example: there are single and double benches where you can stretch your legs as in a deck chair; also long front-and-back benches facing the fjord or the city facades; seats can be integrated with tables for reading or eating or can be supplied with armrests … all of them are close together, so that tourists and residents can sunbathe or have a drink, listen to music or chat together, all with the freedom of not being required to be customers of the restaurants by the seafront.

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

When offices and shops close in the evening, the lights of the small gazebos of the restaurants turn on together with the lights of the entire promenade, which were specifically designed to avoid light pollution that would prevent enjoyment of the sea. The streetlights along the promenade are high and have a narrow light beam that focuses at certain points in particular, leaving most of the rest in shadow, while other hidden headlights only illuminate the riser of steps descending to the water. This evening scenery is quite evocative.

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

A Popular District

The area has become a popular destination that people love to visit, where they can eat seafood along the walk, go shopping, get on a boat directed to the islands and even meet some important businessperson or a VIP. Aker Brygge is visited by not less than 12 million people each year; festivals and unique activities attract people, also the chance to wander at the Aker Brygge mall which is located on a 100m dock. Or you can dock your boat/yacht at the new marina whose pier is 160m long.

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

Stranden. Photo credit: Tomasz Majewski

The Awards

The new Aker Brygge won both the City Award 2016 and the WAN Waterfront Award 2016. The World Architecture News Awards is an international award that – each year since 2005 – appoints the world’s best landscape projects. It is divided into 22 categories, including one specifically dedicated to the Waterfront. The judges rewarded it for the simplicity of the idea which managed to re-create a local identity, to connect people, and to reinvigorate the relationship with the sea. Do you trust in “simplicity” as a key to make a project outstanding? If yes, to what extent?

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Full Project Credits For Stranden:

Project Title: Stranden Landscape Architecture: LINK Landskap Location: Aker Brygge, Oslo, Norway Client: Norwegian Property (NPRO) Landscape area: 10.000 m² Scope: urban regeneration Completion: 2014 Recommended Reading:

How a Competition Project Brought Back Old Values

Article by Alexandra-Elena Ciocan – We take a look at the competition project of Eden Soestdijk and look how new ideas gave back life and expression to old values.  Interested in winning first prize in a landscape design competition and a place in people’s hearts? As challenging as it sounds, it is a ride to enjoy. Take, for example, the submitted work of Mecanoo architecten and its partners in Baarn, The Netherlands on the Soestdijk Estate. The outcome? An Eden-like project that proves one super power of design: unification of the modern landscape and the historic existing framework. The very motto for the proposal is “from palace to paradise”, and in our opinion, it reads success!

Eden Soestdijk. Image courtesy of Mecanoo

Eden Soestdijk. Image courtesy of Mecanoo

Competition Project

While the results of the competition had yet to be announced by April 2017, we believe the Eden Soestdijk competition project has what it takes to overcome the other two contenders and become one of the greatest assets of The Netherlands. Why do we foresee this project as a lock and which of its strengths will help to ensure it? Read on to find out! The first thing that catches the eye and distinguishes the project is the sculptural modern greenhouse. While maintaining the historic focus of the site, the team has succeeded in creating another proportionate focal point — definitely a daring move.

Eden Soestdijk. Image courtesy of Mecanoo

Eden Soestdijk. Image courtesy of Mecanoo

The main inspiration for this representative piece and its organic design is none other than the famous Eden Project in Cornwall, Great Britain. While a quick glimpse shows the resemblance, the Dutch project’s originality and contrast warrants a second look. The team states thatthe ETFE skin of the dome is based on a mathematical structure called Voronoi. This structure is common in nature, as it can be seen in leaves, water bubbles, or in the wings of an insect. This structure not only makes the shape flexible and organic, but also fits within the theme of nature, culture, and science.
Eden Soestdijk. Image courtesy of Mecanoo

Eden Soestdijk. Image courtesy of Mecanoo

The visitor involvement in this park foretells an intimate experience within a modern urban jungle, without the negative connotations of the latter term. All the sequential and thematic gardens are connected to the subject of sustainability, each having its own personality. The paradisical scenery painted by lush plants and glowing water appeals to anyone and everyone, offering chances for different types of exploration. On the one hand, the design is composed of areas in which the visitor is conducted through curved alleys and dim lights to specific attractions, while on the other, lush zones allow freedom to explore nature on his own terms.
Eden Soestdijk. Image courtesy of Mecanoo

Eden Soestdijk. Image courtesy of Mecanoo

A fact you need to remember about this competition project is that its reality and applicability depends on the artistry of nature and the world’s most visible environmental and sustainable issues. We love to fantasize and design amazing imaginary worlds; unfortunately, these are sometimes are not viable to be born into reality. But the Eden Soestdijk competition project and its developers promise a paradisical experience of both historic and modern ambience. The competition project is focused around a social journey: Visiting The Netherlands’ Eden will prompt you to dive into the local history and take a pilgrimage through the lush greenery. The designers have aimed to build a great relationship with the local community.
Eden Soestdijk. Image courtesy of Mecanoo

Eden Soestdijk. Image courtesy of Mecanoo

As communication is the key to any success, the team has decided to design a park that would actively incorporate the needs and desires of citizens, local entrepreneurs, and organizations. These needs are not to be guessed at or studied from afar, but based on flowing discussion and consultation, making Eden Soestdijk truly a team project. One innovative way in which the project contributes to society and offers it the chance to get back to its roots, both natural and historical, is by providing a workplace and study material for the unemployed, residents, and interns. Moreover, the project mitigates the all-time generational conflict between the social layers, as it incorporates the different perspectives of what brings value to society: the historic values or the modern attitude. It is relatable and reliable. The designers state that the park project is specifically “developed and exploited in a non-profit manner,” promising that “all continued proceeds will be reinvested in the further development of the estate.” This proposes an interesting life cycle that promotes the project as an active and reliable organism of the society, which will further contribute to its constant growth. Besides, the feelings that the royal family has cultivated toward nature and landscape are shared by millions of people. This makes this landscape relatable to almost anyone, and sensitizes people to the world’s issues.
Eden Soestdijk. Image courtesy of Mecanoo

Eden Soestdijk. Image courtesy of Mecanoo

Because the project also includes plans for the restoration of the palace, we can well admit that it is responsive to the site’s historical background and modern needs. The space will maintain its cherished historical ambiance, while nurturing the birth of cultural, ecological, and entrepreneurial ideas. Competition is often not about us, nor solely about the project or about meeting criteria. The judges to all the changes we bring to the natural and built environment are none other than the beneficiaries of our projects. Keeping in mind that in a world in which historical gems are consistently destroyed to make room for “state-of-the-art” contemporary pieces, communion and design unity seem to be an anomaly. And the eternal question emerges: Can the modern and the historical bind together to attract even more tourists? We invite you to pause for a second, sip some coffee, and give it a fresh look: Do YOU think this so-called “experimental project” will succeed? Ready to bet on it?

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Architecture and Urban Design Course in Edinburgh, Scotland

Review by Frank Bourque – A three-week postgraduate architecture and urban design course that teaches architecture based on its cornerstones in Edinburgh, Scotland. A lot of people would agree that there is something special about modern architecture that honors its roots in the past. This is exactly what the science of urban design is based upon – a rich history of shaping the physical settings for life in cities, towns, and villages through a collaborative and multidisciplinary process. The art of making places and designing them in an urban context has been mastered nowadays, and we can thank many past engineers and architects for setting the historical cornerstones of urban design and planning. One great example of a city that prides itself on the variety and context of its urban design – today and in the past — is Edinburgh, Scotland.

 architecture and urban design course that teaches architecture based on its cornerstones in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Architecture and urban design course that teaches architecture based on its cornerstones in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Architecture and Urban Design Course

Historical Urban Development as a Motif for a New Three-Week Program

Aside from its rich cultural heritage and tradition in terms of urban design, Edinburgh is also known as the home of the University of Edinburgh, one of the most prestigious universities in Scotland. The university has connected the dots between architecture in theory and architecture in practice — and is officially introducing a three-week design program that gives everyone a chance to explore and experiment with all of the contemporary architectural and urban design motifs deriving from Scotland. The program focuses on all aspects of design, including planning and landscape architecture that specializes in urban regeneration streetscape improvements and landscape design.

 architecture and urban design course that teaches architecture based on its cornerstones in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Architecture and urban design course that teaches architecture based on its cornerstones in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The main philosophy emphasizes the need for imaginative and exciting design solutions that are developed from a thorough understanding of the city’s infrastructure and multidisciplinary planning. The program will also help participants develop an understanding of the different levels of infrastructure and urban planning, differentiating among people, buildings, cities, and the metropolitan landscape. Moreover, the program will focus on combining creative field work with interpretive historical field work, as well as theory-based material using specific artifacts and sites of study based on urban design principles.

A Combined Approach of Theoretical and Methodological Studies

The design of this architecture and urban design course program is rather different from most urban planning courses. The difference lies in the studio-based experience that combines both theoretical and methodological studies. All postgraduates who enroll in this course will have a chance to learn through lectures, seminars, and field work in Edinburgh’s urban environment. The program will also combine individual and group work, running each day for up to nine hours throughout its three-week duration. The structure of the course involves lectures (10 hours), seminar/tutorials (20 hours), supervised and unsupervised field work (20 hours), and practical work (100 hours).

 architecture and urban design course that teaches architecture based on its cornerstones in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Architecture and urban design course that teaches architecture based on its cornerstones in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Learning Outcome of This Urban Design Course

It is safe to say that this course is being offered by an institution that guarantees results and is renowned throughout the world. The course will help postgraduates understand both contemporary debates and scholarly traditions within the history, but also teach them the practical side of urban design and its core functions. Thanks to the advanced methodological training, every postgraduate will participate in design-led research and research-led design, as well as demonstrate rigorous design and research skills and practices. The in-depth knowledge gained from this course will obviously be put into action, but will also link to the theories of Patrick Geddes and other urban paradigms concerning this field of architecture and design.

 architecture and urban design course that teaches architecture based on its cornerstones in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Architecture and urban design course that teaches architecture based on its cornerstones in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Location, Duration, and Pricing

The main goal of this program is to let postgraduate students develop their knowledge even further. The course starts on July 3 and ends on July 21. There are number of fee packages for the three-week program. All include tuition costs, the total program, and a preferred accommodation type. Generally speaking, the costs are provided on a weekly basis. and the average (Silver) package would cost $2,913 — or $971 per week. Students are asked to make a deposit of $160, which can be further reclaimed toward the fee packages. All of the students who enroll possess a first degree in architecture, landscape architecture, and/or urban design. A portfolio must be submitted as part of the course application.

 architecture and urban design course that teaches architecture based on its cornerstones in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Architecture and urban design course that teaches architecture based on its cornerstones in Edinburgh, Scotland.

A Final Word

The main value of this course in urban design and planning is not simply the understanding of architecture that postgraduates will gain. It is actually a mix of all the principles, theories, and projects that are situated within the city of Edinburgh. In such a city full of history, tradition, and depth of architecture, learning about urban design principles is certainly easier. And that is where the university has focused its efforts in designing this course. So if you are a student with a background in architecture, urban design, or planning and are considering a postgraduate study that will provide a solid knowledge base for your future career, The University of Edinburgh’s three-week program is certainly one of the best choices that can be found.

Click the link to learn more about this course: Architecture and Urban Design

Vanke Cloud City | Uses Street Furniture to Re-imagine the Urban Landscape

Article by Amrita Slatch – Vanke Cloud City Phase 2, by Lab D+H, in Guangzhou, China. It is very rare for mixed-use developments to cater to a specific group of people. But the Cloud City development by Vanke (China’s largest real estate developer) has taken the bold step of focusing on the younger generation, who come to live in extravagant first-tier cities such as Guangzhou, but wish to enjoy an affordable lifestyle. This project of 5,000 small apartments, combined with high-end retail areas, required a cohesive street infrastructure that would be interactive and add value to the space, but still be cost effective. It became essential for the developers to come up with an innovative solution. Considering the challenges involved, Lab D+H lab brought into the set-up to develop a strong landscape strategy.

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City

A Modular Floorscape that Generates a Framework for the Overall Landscape Environment

When we are striving to be cost efficient, we tend to work within the geometrical or Euclidean limit, as it is easier to construct, assemble, and replicate that model. To augment this or tweak it with various permutations and combinations can be tricky. To base the entire floorscape on this thought was an amazing idea, as it not only guided the two-dimensionality of the space, but also amplified the three-dimensionality of it. How was it done?

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Within this floorscape, various zones or precincts are identified with different hues of gray, with a splash of orange in between, all meant to bring vitality to the space. To further bring more life to the space, the floorscape emerges into a softscape area in one precinct, street furniture in another, and an interesting landscape installation in yet a third. All of this only adds more variety and character to the overall landscaped space.
Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

In one move to cut construction costs, the designers used Vanke’s own precast concrete modules to create this dynamic floorscape, which also avoided over-exploitation of stone (a conservation issue in China).
Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Softscape Spaces that Warm the Streetscape

Softscape areas that hold celebratory yet mellow landscape touches, such as a Christmas tree along with grasses and sedges, have been implanted within the floorscape, keeping the module in mind. The entire landscape looks to be part of one singular language despite the textural erraticism. In some places, they give a comfortable ambiance tucked behind seating areas; in others, they are bold gestures in and of themselves.

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Dynamic Street Furniture for the Young and Restless

The street furniture follows similar modular principles. It is created using two basic precast modules that can be assembled with various permutations and combinations, forming 20 options. These options work differently as well, forming group seating, single seating, lounge seating, and so on and so forth. In this way, the furniture is dynamic and resonates with the younger market much better than what a stand-alone furniture set would do.

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Interactive Landscape Installation for the Young and Energetic

To further enhance the streetscape, it was essential to add fun and interactive installations that make the space more active and invite residents to spend some time in recreation and physical activity. A cloud line made up of tubular steel runs and bends continuously throughout the space, forming monkey bars, benches, and other fitness facilities.

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Another interesting installation, the Cloud Seat, literally emerges from the floorscape in an eclectic orange color, massing itself up vertically and horizontally and creating a fun space for kids and young adults alike. Made up of pre-perforated steel plate — a recycled item — it acts as a major attraction at night because of its stunning light effects.
Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Living in an Urban Delight

All in all, Vanke Cloud City supports an amazingly livable environment for the young, thanks to Lab D+H, which has so cohesively crafted the environment, keeping all of the linkages intact despite the challenges involved. The design very boldly works on a modular framework strategy for the floorscape, from which the landscape literally emerges.

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Further adding to the interesting mix of street furniture and installations is the fact that Cloud City achieves all this without breaking the bank. Designing amazing street infrastructure doesn’t have to be an expensive affair.
Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Kudos to the Lab D+H team for being able to elevate the experience of the younger generation at Cloud City, providing a fulfilling landscape experience at an affordable price. How important is the role of street furniture in vitalizing a space? Do more cities require interactive and dynamic street furniture to enliven a space? Or do such streetscapes only work for the younger crowd? Can they work in cities with mixed-age populations? Let us know in the comments below.

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Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 - Photo Credits: James Cheng

Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 – Photo Credits: James Cheng

Full Project Credits For Vanke Cloud City:

Project Name: Vanke Cloud City Phase 2 Project Location: Guangzhou, China Client: Guangzhou Vanke Landscape Architect: Lab D+H Design Team: Huicheng Zhong, YoungJoon Choi, Zhongwei Li, Jin Huang, Miao Lin, Liujun Deng, Nan Lin, Feimin Song, Hao Lan, Qin Zan Design/Construction: February-May 2016 Site Area: 4,000 square meters Photo Credits: James Cheng Recommended Reading:

Place des Droits de l’Homme | How to Bring People Back to a Forgotten Space

Article by Mayré Rivero Bueno – We take a look at how the Place des Droits de l’Homme project brought people back to a space that was forgotten about, rejected by time and life. The square, Place des Droits de l’Homme, is located in Tremblay en France. The town is a commune in the north-eastern suburbs of Paris, it has an area of 22.44 Km2 and is 19.7 Km from the center of the capital city; using public transportation, it would be a 1-2-hour trip. The square has a strategic location and has existed since the 70’s; it is surrounded by the town hall, the cultural center, the municipal library and housing, and it is the cover for an underground parking lot. The square has always been viewed as an essential piece of the city center but as time passed the space became neglected and forgotten, slowly becoming a mournful space, disconnected from the city.

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Place des Droits de l’Homme

The Conflicts The square was having conflicts in achieving a strong and good connection between the city and the citizens, because it didn’t have a fluid connection with its surrounding space. The fact that it is 2 meters above the natural ground level was one of the reasons, plus there were elements such as misplaced urban furniture that acted as obstacles which increased the problem; those fringes reinforced the isolation of the square.

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

These physical barriers needed to be softened because it also created an un-friendly scenario for people with reduced physical mobility. Another not-so-helpful characteristic was the square’s floor, it was a paving slab system that consisted of paving slabs over pedestals, sitting above a weatherproofing membrane. This system was really fragile, as it only permitted a maximum of 350 Kg/m2, limiting the versatility of the square, discouraging the presence of temporary markets or other uses; it also created difficulty for placing vegetation, plus the slabs started to deteriorate with time by breaking down.
Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Solving the Conflicts

The square was lacking multifunctionality and this was not only a mere aesthetic issue. The designers had to solve the enigma of how to transform the square in a dynamic and static space, a transit zone and contemplation zone. The design should permit the square to be flexible, in order to be the scenario for different types of events; it should not be predictable, as it had to leave a sense of freedom where different types of activities could take over.

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

As a design guide, the team created a square grid of 3.5 m by 3.5 m. They placed it over the square; this mesh worked as a skeleton structure that shaped the new square’s design, and it also gave birth to the new pattern for the square’s floor. The paving slabs were replaced by concrete squares that could hold more than 350 Kg/m2, so the matter of the new maximum structural loading was one massive improvement, maybe the most relevant portion of the redesign, because now the square was not tied down to that maximum weight restriction that inhibited the opportunity to have green landscape and different kind of activities.
Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Other specific changes had to be done; towards the south we can find the Jardin des cultures. This access was frequently used but was visually blocked and created a feeling of insecurity; the solution here was to insert a new monumental staircase that created visual connections.
Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

To the north is the Boulevard de l’Hôtel de Ville; this connection has one of the entrances to the sub-level parking lot. This zone was not as pedestrian-welcoming as was wished, it had also visibility issues and for citizens with reduced mobility was not a friendly access point, so here the team took a previously existent pedestrian access and turned it into a ramp so that people on bikes and wheelchairs could also use it. Furthermore, the existing vegetation is reinforced and this seals the engagement of the boulevard with the square.
Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

To the west, we find the Allée Nelson Mandela; here, in particular, many misplaced elements were acting as obstacles towards the fluidity and legibility of the space, such as low walls, banks, etc; also there was no access for people with reduced mobility. The response here was to demolish the misplaced elements and free the space, plus the design of a fusion of a stair and a ramp with vegetation and lighter guardrails. The result turned out very sculptural; this increased the aesthetic value of the zone.
Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

The Vegetation

We talked before about the square grid of 3.5 m by 3.5 m. Those measurements were also the dimensions of the new micro-gardens; they are easily movable and divisible into 4 parts. On each of the micro-gardens were planted a different kind of trees and flowers. Within the trees we find Scots pines, magnolias that are the evergreen type and maples which are the type that change their color through the seasons.

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

The flowers are perennials, wildflowers are ivy, wisteria, poppies, wild chrysanthemums and more; these types of flowers bring color, plant diversity, and micro-fauna such as butterflies and ladybirds. The vegetation has the ability to revitalize a place; these green pixels helped this square to become a true outdoor living space where people pass by and also actually stay. If citizens don’t feel comfortable in a place they will just avoid it and neglect it as much as they can; this, for a public space, is a key factor for its death or life.
Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

Place des Droits de l’Homme. Credit: B+C Architectes

A public space without users is nothing but an urban desert, an easy scenario for not-so-friendly activities. It has been said and written multiple times that multifunctionality is key for the success of public spaces because it helps a space respond to different types of needs that the users and the city may have and allows it to function during any season. This is what was solved through the re-design of this square; the multifunctionality that was missing in the space was brought to the fore, and it revitalized the place, bringing back citizens. Do you think that this so-called multifunctionality has any negative side effects on public spaces?

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Recommended Reading:

Ubatuba House II | When Architecture Completes Nature

Article by Claudia Corapi – A walk inside Ubatuba House II by Spbr Architects, Ubatuba, Brazil. Urban planning has to ensure the right use of the land, but sometimes its rules interfere with creating a project that can also be viewed as a piece of art. The task taken up by SPBR Architects with the “Ubatuba House II” project wasn’t easy because of the necessity to preserve the surrounding site, made up of a forest of trees. Nevertheless, referring to the “Ubatuba House I” project experience, designed almost ten years before, they were soon able to turn two limitations – the urban rules and the sloping area – into key factors. “The hill on which is placed the house and the lush vegetation growing, are protected by environmental laws”, Angelo Bucci commented about Ubatuba.

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II

A Refined Landmark

It’s really possible for a private house to become an element of public utility and “Ubatuba house II” shows how that can be. SPBR’s main purpose was to show the way in which concrete and nature can coexist while also creating a house that is a showpiece for the community and a possible tourist destination. Ubatuba House II also has an amazing landmark role because it looks like an iconic architecture which admires and, above all, is admired.

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

What makes this house a work of art, and more than a simple home? In the common outlook, a home is a set of rooms in which people live their private moments. “Ubatuba House II” is an example of understanding and domination of nature through the respectful involvement of architecture.
Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

A Professional Challenge

Who among designers, at least once in a lifetime, has felt frustrated, facing boring rules? In this case, finding a balance between the natural environment and the built environment could have proved frustrating for the design team.

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

However, SPBR merged these two elements and made them work in a perfect combination, whilst also finding a harmony between forest and construction. “Two main goals have led the design process: not touch the ground, to create an outside platform where topography, with 50% of slope, has provide any flat piece of land.said Angelo Bucci
Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

A Delicate “Family Nest”

It’s located in Ubatuba, on the São Paulo Brazilian coast, where fascinating legends of pirates makes its history a past to celebrate and preserve. The 350,40 m² house occupies 50% of the sloping land but its pillars are the only elements to rest on the original site.

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

“Ubatuba House II” is comprised of three cubes which not only help preserve the underground land but also allow for more views of the neighboring sea. The main cube, a prism of 10x6x6 m3 divided into two floors plus a third open space, has two little “satellite” volumes placed on its eastern and western sides.
Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Upside-down Composition

From the top, a bridge connects the entrance to the street and it also creates the starting point of an ideal path through the house. Residents are able to enjoy both the indoors and outdoors since the bridge eventually leads them through the trees that surround the house to an elegant balcony overlooking the sea. Well-furnished as an open-air lounge bar, you can stop and sit, relax, and enjoy the landscape, or you can simply pass through and enter the house via the access stairs.

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

From the terrace, you can go downstairs to the most private area. Here the first floor is characterized by three bedrooms, each with its own private bathroom and glass wall that faces the sea providing a spectacular, private view as well; the second floor has all services and a huge living room with ocean views. Downstairs, the veranda, which is home to an open-air kitchen, dining and living room, provides residents a place to entertain while also enjoying the nearby beach.
Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Two “Satellite” Volumes

The residence of the keeper is the west “satellite” volume, located immediately below the main entrance; it has its own services and a separate entrance with rooftop parking, allowing for privacy and discretion. The east cube is a space conceived as an “extension” of the house with a pool. The designers didn’t want to interfere with the beauty of their surroundings, so they discreetly hid the pool equipment in an area under the pool. The light helps to underline these three cubes: by penetrating through the slits it emphasizes the relationship between full and empty spaces.

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Clever Engineering and Materials Elegance

The structure of reinforced concrete columns was completed by wood elements and frameless tempered glass. The warmth of the wood adds depth to details like doors, furnishings and the pool. The inside floor is coated by 2.5×2.5 cm ceramic tile, while metal was chosen for railings and secondary external stairs. Colors contribute to give a sense of imitation of the surrounding nature: the parallel between the grey sand and the walls, the harmony between the forest and the brown frames, the dialogue among the water pool and the blue sea, as if it were an artificial representation of the natural environment.

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Harmonious Relationship Between Nature and Artifice

Urban rules, such as connections between the users’ needs and the designer’s artistic sensibility, must always be considered. This project shows though, that neither has to win if there is way to make them work in harmony with each other. What elements could have been added or left out to make this design fit into the environment even more?

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Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Ubatuba House II. Photo Credit: Nelson Kon

Full Project Credits for Ubatuba House II:

Project title: Ubatuba House II Location: Ubatuba, São Paulo, Brazil Design years: 2011-2012 Construction years: 2013-2014 Architectural firm: Spbr Architects Principal in charge: Angelo Bucci Project team: Tatiana Ozzetti, Nilton Suenaga, Ciro Miguel, Juliana Braga, Fernanda Cavallaro, Victor Próspero Scope: Design a private house Client: Wanda Antunes, Celso Antunes Structural engineer: Marcelo José Bianco, Ricardo Bozza (Inner Engenharia) Photo: Nelson Kon Plumbing / electrical: JPD Landscape architect: Raul Pereira General Contractor: José Bernardino E. de Sousa Structural system: Reinforced concrete Major materials: Concrete, glass, wood, steel Site area: 887,50 m² Total floor area: 350,40 m² Recommended Reading:

New Urban Squares | How to Activate the Leftover Spaces Between Buildings

Article by Giacomo Guzzon – The Case of St. James Square in Melbourne and Pancras Square in London looking at how they created new urban squares. Almost all historic public squares have some common characteristics. They are typically generous in size, they are often surrounded by important buildings, feature fountains, statues, and seating of some kind, and most importantly, they have lots of light because they are surrounded by rather low buildings, hosting shops and restaurants and conveying a liveable and active atmosphere. Today urban squares are designed in a completely different socioeconomic environment. Space in cities is limited and there is great economic pressure to create tall buildings to maximize their capacity and use.

Pancras Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

Many of these new squares such as St. James Square and Pancras Square are located in very challenging sites. Landscape architects are asked to design spaces in the inhospitable conditions caused by shadows cast by tall buildings, wind corridors, and complicated circulation.

Pancras Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

New Urban Squares

St. James Square in Melbourne

St. James Square, by Aspect Studios, covers a small site completely surrounded by tall and modern buildings. Here the design had the goal to activate and rejuvenate the public realm that was left after renovating a 1960s building. The open space design has a strong connection with the architecture’s forms and diagonal lines; these are reflected onto the square and used to shape and orient retaining walls, planting beds, and to align trees.

St. James. Photography: Andrew Lloyd

St. James. Photography: Andrew Lloyd

The hard materials palette is simple: grey stone is used on the upper terrace, echoing the building façade’s colour, and timber decking on the lower one, creating an appealing contrast with the other materials and conveying a warmer feeling. The use of timber for flooring and benches is fundamental here because it helps to soften the space, making it inviting and less rigid. Moreover, it creates the perfect spill-out space for restaurants and cafes facing the square.
St. James. Photography: Andrew Lloyd

St. James. Photography: Andrew Lloyd

The evergreen magnolia trees (Magnolia grandiflora) with their large, glossy evergreen leaves and white blossoms, are used to mitigate the wind-channelling effect and to anchor the design into the cityscape by providing strong visual nodes throughout the site that are visible from the adjacent streets. The low planting design features Cycas revoluta, Phormium spp. and evergreen groundcover plants.
St. James. Photography: Andrew Lloyd

St. James. Photography: Andrew Lloyd

St. James. Photography: Andrew Lloyd

St. James. Photography: Andrew Lloyd

Pancras Square, London

Pancras square, by Townshend Landscape Architects, is located within a larger masterplan for the redevelopment of an area next to King’s Cross Station in London. The site has many similarities with the one in Melbourne: it is rather small, surrounded by new and tall buildings, and it has a modern atmosphere. The 4000m2 square is composed of different terraces sloping down from north to south and following the natural relief.

Pancras Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

Pancras Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

The main design element is a cascading water feature that emphasizes the level change and orchestrates the spatial arrangement of the landscape elements: areas of lawn, planting, and seating are juxtaposed with reflecting pools and dynamic cascades of water. The design unfolds in different ways, depending on whether you enter the square from the south or north end. The view from the south emphasizes the water cascading while the one from the north conveys a much calmer and more peaceful feeling, since only the pools of still water are visible.
Pancras Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

Pancras Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

The planting throughout the site is composed of clipped hedges intermingled with lush perennial plantings and broadleaved deciduous trees like Liquidambar styraciflua, Prunus spp. Platanus spp., and Cercydiphyllum japonicum. Here also, trees are used to create visual nodes to anchor the design in the wider cityscape. At the southern end a large Pin Oak, Quercus palustris, attracts people into the square and then throughout the site.

St. James Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

The analysis of these two schemes makes it is clear how important is to attract people into these new, often dark, spaces by using appealing design as well as programming. Shops, restaurants, and destinations are necessary to animate the public realm and create an active, bustling atmosphere.
Pancras Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

Pancras Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

Jan Gehl, noted Danish architect and urban designer, researched and wrote consistently about how communities use public spaces and, in particular, his major focus is ‘life between buildings’, which is also the name of one of his books. He explained that communal spaces in cities become meaningful and attractive when different activities (he calls them necessary, optional and social) occur in combination and feed off each other.
Pancras Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

Pancras Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

In both squares we can see how this is happening: they offer opportunities for people to just sit or walk through, they provide amenities where people can eat and meet, and lastly they provide places for social activities where kids can play, and people can meet and see or hear other people.
Pancras Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

Pancras Square. Photo credit: Giacomo Guzzon

In order to activate the leftover spaces between buildings it is fundamental to understand what is needed–not only in design terms–to achieve a high quality of public life. For example, designing places that feel good using the appropriate forms, materials, features and furniture, providing amenities, creating visual nodes that connect the squares with the cityscape around it, providing opportunities for people to interact in as many ways as possible; these are all ways to create successful public spaces.
St. James. Photography: Andrew Lloyd

St. James. Photography: Andrew Lloyd

St. James and Pancras squares both exemplify these concepts, and they both show us how important these are in providing a stage for people to interact with each other. Such successful public spaces are an important part of a democratic and full life in cities.

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St. James. Photography: Andrew Lloyd

St. James. Photography: Andrew Lloyd

Full Project Credits:

Project Name: St. James Square Client: Juilliard Group Team: ASPECT Studios (Landscape Architects and Lead Consultants) METIER3 (Architects) Bonacci (Structural and Civil Engineering) Vision Design (Lighting Design) Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Year: 2013 Budget: AUS $1.2 million Area Size: 2,500 m2 Photography: Andrew Lloyd – Project Name: Pancras Square Team: Townshend Landscape Architects, Robert Townshend, Martha Alker, Andrea Dates Fountain Designer: The Fountain Workshop Year: 2015 Location: Pancras Square, King’s Cross, London, UK Client: King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership Area size: 0.4 ha Recommended Reading:

Angles of Incidence | Blue Artistic Landmark Glows in Sydney

Article by Alexandra-Elena Ciocan – Angles of Incidence, by  Warren Langley and Julia Davis, in Victoria Cross, North Sydney, Australia. The 6-meter high, imposing and curious sculptural landmark created by famous artist-couple Warren Langley and Julia Davis in the Victoria Cross intersection, North Sydney, required tremendous thought and sentiment, as well as thorough artistic and engineering study. The Angles of Incidence project is part of the North Sydney Public Art Trail, consisting of this and 17 other pieces scattered in different locations all over Sydney, with the major purpose of providing visitors with a high-quality public art experience.

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Angles of Incidence shows that artists need to utilize much more than just materials or colours in order to conceive of something eye-catching and modern. They must also work with light, texture, and the surrounding landscape, in order to create a true landscape masterpiece.

Angles of Incidence

This project shows that artists need to utilize much more than just materials or colours in order to conceive of something eye-catching and modern. They must also work with light, texture, and the surrounding landscape, in order to create a true landscape masterpiece.

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Pulsating with the Rhythm of the City

The glass artwork is definitely a statement piece that has a dynamic influence on the environment, but from our point of view, it is also well-integrated into its surroundings. By these means, it becomes a component and a living structure of the busy city. This glass-and-light canvas is ideal for painting all the images and capturing seconds and memories of the rapid flow of life.

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Being reactive to the urban environment, all the physical changes in the light level, time, scenery, and even human position engrave the surface without leaving any marks. The sculpture’s metamorphosis during the evening and night creates whimsical scenery, supported technically by a glowing blue LED light. Langley comments on the contrasting feel the sculpture has day-to-night: “Whether the viewer experience is pedestrian or vehicular, the artwork displays a completely different day time and night time persona.”
Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Narrating the Specificity of the Site

As much as this blue beacon has a silent personality it also makes a strong impression. The shape it resembles is truly site-specific, as the inspiration for the final form was no other than a small quartz grain from the underlying city layers. The anatomy of the artistic piece echoes the site’s past and its reflective surface provides insight into the present. According to what Davis says,The dialogue between the sculpture and its surroundings is a metaphor for the ‘interactions’ that have happened on this site from its pre-colonial past to the commercial and entertainment precinct it is now.”

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Its style and location portray the historic architectural progress and constant development of the urban setting. The location was not randomly chosen but was actually thought to add to the visibility and bold effect of the project. The artists operated with the space in a way to bring popularity to their creation: the physical intersection of roads would double for a social gathering point, a high-traffic transitional area and even a tourist pin. While the urban space image underwent a striking transformation, the project was to benefit from its positioning.
Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Entertaining Despite its Static Nature

The very piece was born at the crossing of interactive safety glass planes, falling and rising at different angles, and while the notion of an interactive land sculpture might not be new in the field of environmental art, I assure you that this one is different. While other sculptures are interactive as a consequence of their movement mechanisms that are engaged by wind or water, this glass piece is distinct.

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

The way in which this piece manages to actively communicate with its surroundings and admirers is by visual deviations, providing the unique chance to enjoy multiple perspectives from the same standing point. Even more, both the selected colour and the reflective quality of the materials used open and extend the space and act in various ways to support the concept the piece beholds. To explain, as the structure first impresses you with its architecture and height, viewing the blue color will also have a subtle impact on your train of thoughts.
Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

This rare, naturally-occurring pigment has a poetic significance that raises the social conscience: it is also evocative of landscape and nature. If you did not know yet, this shade is generally created by the structure of the object. In this very case, the colour which seems to be a trademark for the artist-couple’s works was obtained by using a modern digital glass technology.
Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

Angles of Incidence. Photo credit: Richard Glover

This provided the techniques to create the perfect shade and saturation, the result leading to Warren Langley being bestowed with the contemporary studio glass award – an Ausglass honorary life membership. It has been proven that blue acts well in creative problem solving, so we dare say that this interactive sculpture might mark in fact the perfect spot to make big decisions. Why? It has all it needs; indirect introspective feel? – check, attractive shape and colour to lose your thoughts into? – check, great angles on everything around you? – check. But leaving aside studies, we warmly recommend a visit to Sydney to see Angles of Incidence, to add to your personal experience portfolio. Do you think it is worth it?

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Full Project Credits For Angles of Incidence:

Project Name: Angles of Incidence Artists: Warren Langley and Julia Davis Project manager: Trent Baker Armature Structural Engineers: Harry Partridge and Niki Akbari Commissioned: North Sydney Council Location: Victoria Cross, North Sydney, Australia Dimensions: 6m H x 2.4 x 2.2 Completed: 2016 Type: Light and Glass sculpture Title: Angles of Incidence Materials: Digitally coloured safety glass, stainless steel and LED lights Photo Credit: Richard Glover Recommended Reading:

Landscape Architecture Plan | 10 Excellent Video Tutorials

Article by Gwgw Kalligiannaki – We take a look at 10 incredible YouTube tutorials for creating a landscape architecture plan to improve your skills. The landscape architecture plan is a communication document. We create them to visualize our ideas to other people. However, we live in the age of publicity, so the plan is also part of the architect’s professional image. As the competition grows, most of us spend lots of hours in front of our computers not only for ‘cadding’, but also for illustrating our plans. I really love editing, paying attention to the line weights, using textures for the different materials, using symbols, in order to form a more aesthetically interesting landscape architecture plan. Fortunately, we can easily find a variety of video tutorials for editing, and tips to speed up the illustrations. It’s important to know what you should highlight, in order not to distort the information that the landscape architecture plan must give. So, I created for you a list of 10 video tutorials that I watched to improve my editing skills, but also to save time during the editing process. I hope you find them as interesting and helpful as I do.

Creating a Landscape Architecture Plan

10. Drawing Trees

During the design progress we usually use drawings, before we start “cadding”. But have you ever thought about using the hand-drawn trees in your final plan? Well, now you will think, ‘why draw my trees when I can find a thousand blocks online?’. Drawing your own trees will be more interesting as you scan them and convert them to your own Photoshop brushes (you will see a ‘how to’ video below), or .png files for illustrations.

9. Creating Groups of Plants

Group plants in landscape architecture plans are usually used to represent bushes or groups of flowers. With simple tools; a pencil and a stencil with circles, we can create our own groups. As I said above, by editing your hand-drawn plants in Photoshop you can make brushes or .png images to use in your future design plans.

8. How to Model Detailed Terrain in SketchUp

This tutorial teaches you to create an embossed ground, fully detailed, using the location and terrain tools. This method is based on the location information from Google to create the landscape contours. It seems to help a lot, having a more realistic terrain with which to illustrate the landscape architecture plan. Used by thousands of architects in 3d design, it was time for SketchUp to include tools to create the topography of a site.

7. Preparing the Plan for Photoshop

This video was one of the first videos that I came through as I was searching tutorials. It doesn’t actually show an illustration method; it shows all the preparation, before importing the landscape architecture plan into Photoshop. The illustration becomes faster when you have set layers for materials, the units of the design, or have all the elements of the landscape architecture plan as polylines. I have to say that when I started to use this method, things become easier in Photoshop.

6. Creating Seamless Textures

A landscape architecture plan almost always contains continuous areas of grass or pavements. As we use textures to our plans, we are usually reaching for seamless textures, images that can be placed side-by-side with themselves without creating a noticeable boundary between two copies. It is useful to know how we convert a simple image to a seamless texture, to avoid the appearance of distracting seams in our plan.

5. Rhino Topography from Contours

Rhino is one of the most-used 3d visualization programs nowadays. Watching this tutorial, you can understand how to create a site’s topography from contours. Some of us find it a bit hard in illustration when we face areas with gradients. And once the ground is the basis of our design, we cannot overlook the topography when creating a landscape plan. Programs such as Rhino make the simulation of topography a lot easier. 4. Graphics For Landscape Design

We usually want to pay so much attention to our plans that we tend to overdo. We are not artists; the design plans are documents that help us communicate our ideas. “Graphics for Landscape Architects” mentions the important key points of the landscape architecture plan, such as line weights, colors, plantings, and trees and paving.

3. Using Photoshop Brushes

Watching this video, the first thing that came to my mind was the countless hours I have spent searching the Internet for high-quality .png files of plants for my plans. Now, Photoshop brushes are extended, so they include many more ‘stamps’ such as plants, people figures, or animals. Watch out; this tutorial actually starts at 3:00.

2. Creating Custom Brushes in Photoshop

Even if we can’t find the brush that we want, my beloved Photoshop gives another solution…create one! Photoshop now allows you to use images to create your own brush collection. I find this command so helpful, especially for plants, because it makes the illustrating process faster without the stress of quality, since the quality is adapted during design. I find this command so helpful, especially for plants, because it makes the illustrating process faster without the stress of quality, since the quality is adapted during design.

1. Landscape Architecture Section and Plan in Photoshop

I usually work with combined floor-section plans. I think that they make the whole idea of the design more clear. In this tutorial, even though the illustration is done without a CAD background, it gives all the information needed for this design. While watching the floor plan we can easily understand the layout of the elements, and the section above shows not only the planting and lighting, but also how they relate to human scale. As I’ve already said, I am an illustrated-plans lover. Watching all these tutorials (and many more as I work on my designs), I feel that the presentation of the design plan becomes part of the total design process. Not only are the editing programs, like Photoshop or Illustrator, improving their “skills” to offer more editing features, but the design programs now contain display element tools. What tools do you use in your landscape architecture plan illustrations?

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Zhangjiajie Pour | The Most Illusionistic Project you Have Ever Seen

Article by Radenka Kolarov – Zhangjiajie Pour, by Martin Duplantier Architectes, in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China. Zhangjiajie Pour project by Martin Duplantier Architectes and Daqian Landscape Architects, in Zhangjiajie, China. This new stainless steel bridge is part of an award-winning concept designed by Martin Duplantier Architectes for the Zhangjiajie World Heritage Site in China. Landscape design for a World Heritage Site is all about treading lightly. And the latest concept for the Zhangjiajie World Heritage Site in Hunan Province, China, does exactly that. Martin Duplantier Architects has released its award-winning plans for pavilions and three scary bridges that will link mountain peaks via a new walkway in the wilderness.

Zhangjiajie Pour. ©Martin Duplantier Architectes

Zhangjiajie Pour. ©Martin Duplantier Architectes

The plans come just a few months after the longest glass bridge in the world opened in another part of the World Heritage Site. The architects describe the landscape as “baroque, unique and breathtaking”. So, let’s take a closer look at this powerful project.

Zhangjiajie Pour

Form, Shape and Structure Three pavilions will be set in the park, offering incredible views to the visitors. Pavilions in the same materials are organized in three levels; from the 360° panorama on the roof – a terrace-panorama directly accessible from the path, to the café in the middle with its dedicated spaces, down to the exclusive VIP suite in the lower level – a royal guesthouse that offers a unique space of contemplation in the heart of the national park; the latter being the visitor’s only means to enjoy a unique night in the middle of this magical landscape. These incorporate space for a terrace, a cafe and a luxury guest house. “After the crowds of the day having disappeared, the lucky tenants will be able to enjoy the spectacle in perfect solitude,” the architects say. Those pavilions are connected with a very special bridge. Set down on the rocks, this step-bridge has two levels to be enjoyed. The upper one connects the two sides, while the lower one is for experiencing a moment “in the air”.

Zhangjiajie Pour. ©Martin Duplantier Architectes

Zhangjiajie Pour. ©Martin Duplantier Architectes

One of the bridges is an elliptical shape with a large off-centre hole through which visitors can view the rock formations below. A net across the hole can be crawled on by those without a fear of heights. One of the bridges also features a water system that creates an artificial cloud effect that sprays “rain” to form a film of water on black granite. This bridge is on two levels, with glass sides. The Contrast within the Environment “The mountains rise like nimble fingers towards the sky. The vegetation, against all odds, has managed to grow on this invincible rock. Faced with this topographic spectacle, all are left astounded.” These are the words that describe the first impression of the architect’s team. The competition involved a new route on the western part of Zhiangjiajie, including bridges and pavilions. Contrasting with a complex landscape, the footbridges are pure geometric shapes, which seem to have been placed delicately on the carved relief of the site.
Zhangjiajie Pour. ©Martin Duplantier Architectes

Zhangjiajie Pour. ©Martin Duplantier Architectes

Mirroring the environment, the bridge is an elliptical form with an off-centred hole that allows views down into the gap between the two rock forms. A strong net allows courageous visitors to lay down in the void. Do you see you self as one of those who would try that? For this project there were three different concepts featured. But they all feature reflective stainless steel for the structure and black stone for the flooring. Take a look!

Concept of an Illusion

The concept developed is that of illusionistic geometric development. They are the opportunities, each in its own respect, to create a physical relationship with this rock face. The company’s concept, which was a competition entry, plays on the idea of illusion and stealth; the illusion of a mirror for the first, the fear of the void for the next, and lastly the setting of an abyss for the final.

Zhangjiajie Pour. ©Martin Duplantier Architectes

Zhangjiajie Pour. ©Martin Duplantier Architectes

On the bridge, the “water mirror” is made of two centimetres of water on black stone which gives a completely new aspect of view to this project. The irregular set of the stones gives a feeling of a winding path in the mountains, when one is attracted by the great panorama. Every seven minutes, the water disappears and reappears through spray nozzles, creating a cloud in the middle of the mountains. This cloud progressively lands on the stones, transformed into a veneer of still water. You gotta admit, it sounds promising!
Zhangjiajie Pour. ©Martin Duplantier Architectes

Zhangjiajie Pour. ©Martin Duplantier Architectes

Another Jewel of China

Zhangjiajie Pour is a project by Martin Duplantier Architectes and Daqian Landscape Architects in the city of Zhangjiajie. The project is located in the Zhangjiajie National Park which is one of the most important natural wonders of the country and it is a true geological museum of China. If this has made you want to go straight to Zhangjiajie we recommend that you might prefer the period of September through October. You will enjoy a pleasant time while you enjoy a refreshing landscape and these astonishing pavilions connected with the remarkable bridge in the center of Zhangjiajie National Park. Would you be brave enough to visit such a place as a Zhangjiajie Pour? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Full Project Credits For Zhangjiajie Pour:

Project Name: Zhangjiajie Pour Location: Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China Client: ZTG Dates: Winner of the 2015 International Competition. Construction periods should be done in 2018. Landscape Architects: Martin Duplantier Architectes, Daqian Landscape Architects Recommended Reading:

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