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The Global Collapse in Bee Populations – What You Need to Know!

Experiencing the global collapse of bee populations.  If you’re like me, you’ll remember being out on a summers day, running around, finding the next adventure and catching bees in an old jar for a closer analysis. Then, making sure they were comfortable with a hand full of flowers, realizing that when these critters were released, they would transform into tiny kamikaze bombers. But growing up it became clear that these fat bottom flyers were becoming a distant visitor to my local park and garden. Through reading Rachael Carson’s timeless Silent Spring an unequivocal inside view developed.  It illustrated the damage pesticides, DDT in particular, caused the ecosystem. It conveyed the fragility of nature. Since the realization of mankind’s destruction, how far have we come? Well, if the worldwide bee population is a sign of things, it seems the odds are stacked up against our valuable pollinators. The bee crash was a long time coming and global leaders were too slow in implementing policies to ban the use of pesticides that harm bees and other pollinators. Bees pollinate over 70% of the 100 crop species that supply 90% of the global food demand. Pollinators are estimated to be worth $224 billion each year in global pollination yields.

Bee keeper in action; credit:

Bee Populations: Bee keeper in action; credit:

A Bleak Time Asia, Europe and America are feeling the effects of poor agricultural decision making when it comes to chemical industries. Many countries like France have had a ban on neonicotinoids since the 1990s which is a strain of insecticide that damages the central nervous system. It is considered to be part of the global collapse in bee populations. The slow and indecisive EU Food Safety Authority has acted only recently to ban the substance. Unfortunately, it’s a sad time where we see people hand pollinating crops; this is a script that Monty Python couldn’t have written. China’s environmental responsibilities have never been at the forefront of their growth. It is a clear sign of the times in China and globally. The United States has witnessed the demise of a third of its domestic bee population through Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a disease that wipes out bee colonies without warning or reason. This has led to another unlikely, but real method of pollination. American beekeepers are transporting their honeybee stocks from obscenely distant locations to California’s industrial scale orchards to pollinate apples and pears, where CCD has led to a complete shortage of pollinators in that region. Agricultural practices are blamed for its over-reliance on insecticide and pesticides. This problem is global and has had significant media coverage, demonstrating the extent and seriousness of the problem. Even Hollywood stars like Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen Page and Scarlett Johansson have jumped on the bandwagon. The movie Vanishing of the Bees and The Bee Movie for us big kids have brought these tiny critters to the forefront. Below: Vanishing of the Bees Trailer Is it too late for a plan Bee? To answer the question above, you must ask yourself a few questions. Should we wait for policymakers to bring in changes? Will you hand-pollinate your plants? Or integrate bee habitats through design and large-scale strategies? I suggest the last option. By looking at some of the problems it becomes clear how to understand ground scale changes and encourage bee populations. The problems stem from intensive agriculture, over reliance on fertilizers and insecticides and the lack of diverse habitats. The urban landscape, on the other hand, has become a sanctuary for bees. This is due to a combination of the actions of urban beekeepers and the diverse, disused habitats, like industrial brownfield sites that litter the urban landscape. In Melbourne, Australia, an urban beekeeping movement is thriving. It started with a few people and the idea of beekeeping on urban rooftops. Rooftop Honey Melbourne began as a man with a hobby and transitioned into a community-based business that provides the city with a new lease of biodiversity. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Greensgrow Philadelphia Project transformed an abandoned steel plant into an urban farm, which includes a hydroponics system, beehives, nursery, and a farmers market. It provides jobs and new opportunities to the local community, bringing energy back to a once deprived area. Below: TEDxBoston – Noah Wilson-Rich – Urban Beekeeping Landscape architecture as a profession has an obligation to play a part in providing habitats, not just for bees, but all ranges of species to preserve and increase biodiversity. Often, features such as natural playscapes, brownroofs and habitat walls play a key role in providing habitats for insects. Without these microcosms we will without doubt see large-scale effects. Plus, without them it’s going to be impossible to explain “the birds and the bees” properly! Learn all about bees with our recommended book The Secret Life of Bees: A Novel, The Tenth-Anniversary Edition Article written by Fergus McCarthy Featured image:

This article was originally submitted to Landscape Architects Network

Connecting People & Places: The Power of Tactical Urbanism & Placemaking

On a mild, misty afternoon, cyclists, pedestrians, kids, and adults embark on a journey through their neighborhoods. However, these neighborhoods have a “special” feel. I often find it difficult to describe to visitors, but I always welcome them to experience this resounding aura in Portland, Oregon.

What is City Repair?

City Repair is a community-organized group based in Portland that instills knowledge, inspiration, and creativity in individuals and communities in an effort to transform their neighborhoods (City Repair). This group began with the idea that local values of culture, economy, and decision-making promote sustainability and establish community-oriented places. During each year, City Repair takes part in several largely volunteer-driven projects, including natural building, permaculture, and public art. Its largest project occurs over a period of 10 days (this year it’s slated for May 23 to June 1, 2014) called the Village Building Convergence.

A design workshop is underway from City Repair Cleveland. More than 40 cities have embraced the concept | credit: City Repair

A design workshop is underway from City Repair Cleveland. More than 40 cities have embraced the concept | credit: City Repair

In its 14th year, the Village Building Convergence has empowered local residents, visitors, natural builders, and activists to create neighborhood amenities. With nearly 40 sites throughout the city, participants develop planters, benches, gardens, street paintings, and tile mosaics, among many other exciting projects. A prime example of tactical urbanism is the Loveleigh neighborhood street painting. Located in North Portland, this neighborhood has experienced its share of troubles, from illegal dumping to theft (Village Builder 21). However, with significant effort from its residents, this North Portland neighborhood has seen a revival, thanks in large part to tactical urbanism and placemaking.

What is Tactical Urbanism?

Tactical urbanism is defined as small-scale improvements in an effort to effect large-scale, long-term change. This concept allows the design to be tested before allocating substantial political and financial commitments (Tactical Urbanism Volume II 1). In addition, tactical urbanism serves as a vehicle for generating public interest and facilitating creative solutions to immediate small-scale problems. The growth of tactical urbanism is credited to the recession, shifting demographics, and the use of the Internet as a tool for building the civic economy (Tactical Urbanism II 2-3). Strategic interventions known as city repair can also be referred to as tactical urbanism. While the term tactical urbanism is still in its infancy stages, it’s important to mention that it’s gaining traction.

What is Placemaking?

Similarly, placemaking is defined by City Repair as “a multi-layered process within which citizens foster active, engaged relationships to the spaces which they inhabit, the landscapes of their lives, and shape those spaces in a way which creates a sense of communal stewardship and lived connection” (Village Builder 4).

Newer intersection repair at NE Rodney & Tillamook honoring the identity of Portland as “The City of Roses” | credit: City Repair

Intersection repair at NE Rodney & Tillamook honoring the identity of Portland as “The City of Roses” | credit: City Repair

We as a society construct an overabundance of large projects, but fail to engage people and ultimately build community. Subsequently, Co-founder of City Repair, Mark Lakeman, has a different approach. He notes, “We see design and creating place as a means to build community (with the making of stuff as a vehicle for engaging what is really HUGE and lasting—people), we are able to engender a HUGE impact through making even small things.” Fundamentally, small-scale projects have the ability to engage a strong body of people and, connect them to the creative process, while fostering significant change.

A Strong Case for Community Engagement

The Loveleigh neighborhood is a strong case in point. Due to newly planted trees, bike lanes, and a growing engaged community, it has seen a spark of new families, homes, and ideas. To further its growing civic involvement, street art designed as a rose has been proposed for this year’s Village Building Convergence and is intended to serve as a compass. Complementary to the neighborhood’s previous projects, this art will be a constant reminder that the community is getting stronger each day.

Installing 6th & Going in Portland | credit: Greg Raisman

Installing 6th & Going in Portland at VBC 2013 | credit: Greg Raisman

Portland has been recognized for its public transportation network, environmentally friendly initiatives, microbreweries, food carts, and vibrant bicycle culture. Yet, I believe its strong, well-connected neighborhoods serve as the foundation for Portland’s residents and growing creative class. Next time you are visiting the Pacific Northwest, I hope you have time to pay Portland a visit. Then you will have the opportunity to experience that “special” neighborhood feel, the feel that so many Portlanders have grown to love amidst the drippy weather. A special thank you to Mark Lakeman (Co-founder of City Repair) for his time in contributing to this article. Article written by Brett Lezon

This article was originally submitted to Landscape Architects Network

Going Vertical: The History of Green Walls

An idea almost as old as cities… Green walls: Function or fad? As cities and buildings all around the world are being covered in green, we take a look at the phenomenon of green walls. The first example of green walls may be found in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, even if they may have been more roof gardens than green walls. Later, from Scandinavia to Japan, numerous civilizations used climbing plants to cover buildings, making what is now called ‘green façades’.

Green walls

Photo credit: Patrick Blanc

Green façades were very important in the Art and Crafts and Modern style movements in Europe. For instance, in the beginning of the 20th century, the ‘Jugendstil’ movement used climbing plants (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) on the buildings to make a seamless changeover between the house and  garden. In England, the Garden City movement showed great examples of green façades. William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll designed outdoor vegetated rock walls used for screening & boundaries in gardens. You can still see such examples in Griftpark (Ultrecht, Netherlands). The use of climbing plants declined in the 30’s, due to new building techniques and people’s concern about possible consequences on wall stability. Patrick Blanc, a French botanist, is noted as the first to design the ‘modern’ pattern of green walls, with a full hydroponic system, an inert medium and numerous exotic species. His first green wall is at the Museum of Science and Industry. Green walls in North America Green façades have always been less common in North America. Nowadays, what we call ‘vertical gardens’ seems to have first been theorized in the U.S. in 1937 by Stanley Hart White which pre-dates Patrick Blanc’s work in France. His theories are now being used once again by students at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

What is a green wall?

Green walls

Photo credit: Patrick Blanc

Let’s focus on living walls, also called ‘biowalls’, ‘vertical gardens’ or ‘Vertical Vegetated Complex Walls’ (VCW). The simplest way is to picture it as a cliff: the synthetic medium is the interface to which the cliff growing plant species can hang onto. The hydroponic system is often used to create a succession of dry periods and humid ones. One of the more important moments in the design process of a green wall is the choosing of species: you must choose plants which will grow straight and will have beautiful lower foliage, as they will be seen from underneath. The first living walls used tropical plants but the choice is now much larger. As more recent green walls create beautiful patterns, it is becoming a new urban art.

Why green walls? They have multiple impacts on cities and citizens; they protect buildings from the effects of  natural elements; they are introducing more gardens in urban areas and they can even be used to grow vegetables! Under sun exposure, a bare wall will contribute to heat conduction inside the building, making the internal building temperature rise, and contributing to the urban ‘heat island’ effect. But green walls, where the leaves of plants lose water through evapotranspiration, lower the surrounding air and building temperatures. Green walls also depress the cities temperature–they create a microclimate. L5Photo credit: Patrick Blanc The Tokyo Institute of Technology proved that green walls lower the energy loss of buildings. They also prevent the creation of urban dust (partly due to the effect of wind over buildings) and absorb heavy metal particulates from the atmosphere. However, the first consequence of living walls is the creation of new green space in cities, where available space is scarce. Green

Photo credit: Patrick Blanc

Photo credit: Patrick Blanc

walls are still newcomers in landscape architecture, and innovation is fast. They are invading new places every day. On bridges and roads, they can cover ugly or decaying concrete structures, such as in Mexico City. Every country invents new solutions to answer its own particular problems. In Canada, where winters are very long,  green walls are placed inside buildings to help offset SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). We need gardens to be happier, even scientists have proven as much with the biophilia hypothesis. Let’s build some green walls to achieve this goal!  One must not forget that as with every green space, green walls have advantages and drawbacks (such as using a non-biodegradable medium and often huge water needs) and must only be seen as part of the solution to make our concrete jungle cities greener. If you want to know more on the subject of green walls check out our book review Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls by Nigel Dunnett and Noël Kingsbury Article written by guest writer Marie-Laure Séguin

This article was originally submitted to Landscape Architects Network

Planting in Extreme Terrain and Harsh Climates

Are we limited by our landscape? Do the constraints of our habitat force us to conform to nature’s restrictions? Fifty years ago, the answer was a resounding yes. Our ancestral farmers knew the basics to plant fertility: light, water, and nutrients. Without these three elements, there was no hope of developing a landscape. But as the concept of landscape design evolves, there emerges a new frontier for the adventurous innovator: designing the uncharted landscape of mountain, volcano, and desert. Rak Jebel Al Jais Mountain Resort by OMA

Rak Jebel Al Jais Mountain Resort: Image courtesy OMA

Rak Jebel Al Jais Mountain Resort: Image courtesy OMA

For instance, look at Rak Jebel Al Jais Mountain, Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. Not surprisingly, the UAE is continuing its awe-inspiring growth spurt by challenging the most uncompromising mountainous terrain. The construction of a mega resort perched on the edge of the highest mountain range in the UAE is under way, punching the concept of natural constraints in the gut.

Rak Jebel Al Jais Mountain Resort: Image courtesy OMA

Rak Jebel Al Jais Mountain Resort: Image courtesy OMA

The design includes major attractions for tourists, including lavish rooms, pools, and shopping centers. It also includes a beautifully depicted landscape design; lush, green, and vibrant. The completed resort will be a testament to the UAE’s economic and technological prowess, surpassing even the limits of natural habitat. Enthusiasts of the project are praising its tourism potential and the wonder of human invention, while critics are questioning its sustainability and accessibility.

Rak Jebel Al Jais Mountain Resort: Image courtesy OMA

Rak Jebel Al Jais Mountain Resort: Image courtesy OMA

The proposed landscape design for the new resort is ambitious to the point of incredulity. The palms and native shrubs that flourish in the warm climate of the lowlands are not suitable for the wind-swept, barren mountain range. The renderings of the resort give it a tropical, sunny feel, but in reality, temperatures can dip below freezing and there have been reports of snow on the highest peaks. Is this plan overreaching nature’s boundaries? Or will the resort oasis be a miracle of man’s achievements? We’ll keep an eye on the project as it progresses.

Overview of Solar Hof House by Studio Granda Architects

Solar Hof House, credit: Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson

Solar Hof House, credit: Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson

Spin the globe to the northwest and we end up on an island country that has had its share of environmental challenges. Iceland is renowned for its volatile volcanic landscape due to its location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Its sparse and often sandy soil, along with its frigid climate and the threat of volcanic activity, make it a home to only the toughest native plants.  Add into this the constant threat of erosion caused by the early settlers’ deforestation of the island, and you get an idea of the difficulties facing Iceland’s landscape designers. Their solution? Native plantings. Reforestation.

Solar Hof House, credit: Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson

Solar Hof House, credit: Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson

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And working with sustainable buildings. In essence, they are slowly rebuilding the destruction caused by previous generations. Leaders in environmentally sustainable buildings such as the passive solar Hof House, Icelandic designers set the standards for landscape architecture. The interplay between the buildings and the landscape is harmonious enough to paint a futuristic model for other countries choosing greener options. Rather than bickering with nature, the Icelandic people have chosen to harness and cooperate with their surroundings, philosophizing that if you can’t beat it, join it. Overview of Alice Springs Park In the southern hemisphere, the island continent of Australia has adopted this approach to landscaping its inhospitable spaces, as well. Australia displays a chunk of each type of climate, from flora-filled jungle to sunburned desert. In the central region of the Northern Territory, Alice Springs Park is the product of an interactive, award-winning design by Hassell landscape architects that exhibits the use of native desert plants. Created to raise awareness of the diverse biology of the “outback”, Alice Springs Park veers away from typical, water-guzzling ornamental plantings and incorporates an often-ignored indigenous plant population for beautification. Highlighting the responsibility of human interaction with the landscape and our contribution to its longevity, Alice Springs Park challenges each visitor to embrace their environment and to create beauty within it. It blurs the lines between the natural and designed landscape to exemplify the potential of arid landscape design. By marrying landscape design with native species, Hassell reinvents the concept of green space in Australia’s desert, and the resulting union is one of graceful sustainability. More and more, landscape architecture is playing a prominent role in society as it adapts humanity’s stark ecological footprint to nature’s impartiality. The interaction of designs with their environment rather than being the cookie-cutter and aiming to produce unrealistic ideas not only breaks through preconceived notions of beauty in the landscape, it makes the impossible possible. Recommended Reading:

Article by Linda Freymond Return to Homepage

This article was originally submitted to Landscape Architects Network

Winter Landscapes : How Snow and Cold Can Create Spectacular Landscapes

When the frost hits, most of us do the final weeding, trimming and covering for the winter and dash inside for a cup of cider and a book by the fire. But not all winter landscapes shrivel up and hibernate for the snowy months. In their stark, skeletal state, some gardens reach their peak of breath-taking beauty. In fact, there are landscapes designed to be winter wonderlands. Their summer glory is minimal compared to their winter splendour. Stripped of all show, the structural elements of the plantings create an interesting contrast to the severity of the surrounding landscape. The concept that ’winter is only the beginning’ has influenced Bodnant Garden in North Wales, UK, has been appreciated by Kenrokuen Garden, Japan, and captured by the Gruyères Castle garden in Switzerland.

A different perspective under snowfall

For the first time in history, Bodnant Garden in North Wales, UK is announcing the opening of its winter garden this year. While it is worth a long look during the warmer months, especially with its renowned botanical collection and living covered walkways, the garden is magnificent with its lush foliage replaced by a skim of snow.

Laburnum Arch in spring time at Bodnant Gardens flowering a glorious yellow

How would the Bodnant Gardens hold up in the winter? ; image credit: Gail Johnson / shutterstock

The viburnum arch that is ablaze with yellow flowers in May is transformed into a grid work of shadow and a light blanket of snow. The gorgeous bridge that spans a waterfall becomes the backdrop to an ice-encrusted panorama. With plenty of existing plants such as cornus varieties to add color and texture when devoid of leaves, Bodnant Garden has had the foundation of a winter collection for many years. Using part of the 32-hectare space, an overgrown thicket has been replanted with shrubs and winter flowering plants that have the greatest appeal during the cold season. With over 50,000 visitors during the summer months, Bodnant Garden is sure to draw in crowds with its new frosty display.

 Winter Landscapes in Japan

In Japanese tradition, snow is considered to be a flower, so not surprisingly; winter gardens have been a longstanding element of Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan. One of the three most famous gardens in Japan, as well as one of the oldest, Kenrokuen Garden is uniquely recognized by its winter display.

Kotojitoro lantern in Kenrokuen Garden covered by snow

Kotojitoro lantern in Kenrokuen Garden covered by snow; image credit: Lookmit / shutterstock

Constructed of lengthy bamboo poles arranged in a conical formation with ropes attached to tree limbs, the yukitsuri method of protecting vulnerable trees and shrubs from heavy snowfalls is an interesting aspect of the garden only witnessed in the cold season.  Rising in the horizon like oversized tipis, these elaborate support systems add to the aura of this age-old landscape and make it a winter garden like no other.

Contrast and texture

View of the church and the castle in the Gruyere village on a sunny winter day, Switzerland

View of the church and the castle in the Gruyere village on a sunny winter day, Switzerland; image credit: George Koultouridis / shutterstock

With its backdrop of the majestic, snow-capped Alps, Switzerland has an advantage when it comes to winterscapes. Against the untameable ruggedness of the mountain range, Gruyères Castle stands with its conical, enchanting roofs reminiscent of childhood fairy tales. Surrounded by walls, the inner courtyard garden is the picture of geometric elegance blossoming with color during the summer season. But incredibly, the order of the garden is truly  outstanding when covered with snow. It is during this time that fairy tales become reality as the crisp whiteness of the snow creates a sharp contrast with the bold lines of the manicured shrubs. The effect is a stunning pattern, best appreciated with a blanket of snow. Although it is not a large garden by many standards, this unique perspective defines Gruyères Castle as an interesting winter garden destination. It is incredible what snow can do to a landscape. Highlights and shadows are formed and the ethereal essence of a garden comes to life. The barrenness of naked tree branches reaching up to the sky has created a sparkling, luminescent show of contrast that is only appreciated when all else has faded.
Winter landscapes

Winter landscape ; image credit: fotografaw / shutter stock

These gardens  not only made the most of the winter season, but glory in its icy grip by enhancing and exhibiting nature’s lesser-known charms. So as tempting as it is to find a warm refuge indoors for the winter, keep your eyes open for the beauty only seen when the snow falls. Article written by guest writer Linda Freymond. Featured image :  Antti Pulkkinen / shutterstock

This article was originally submitted to Landscape Architects Network

How to Provide Easy Access to Urban Agriculture in Over Populated Cities

Since the industrial age’s passing through the last century, the migration toward cities has increased headlong and keeps on going. According to statistics, in 2050 more than 80 percent of the urban population will be living in the urban areas (World Bank 2013). Considering the peak oil prices and the unbearable cost of gasoline lately, that increases the price of everything we consume because it all must be transported to our cities, giving rise to urban agriculture . Do we have to rethink our lifestyle to adapt to the new urban conditions and be able to deal with all these factors that would continue to cause more problems? The main issue of the population in general is to produce enough food for all. How to do it if we all want to live in the city?

Urban Agriculture: A potential solution

The solution is called a Plantscraper! This is a building exclusively designed for growing crops exactly as in agricultural fields, but in an urban environment — vertically — floor after floor. The strategy provides access to fresh production inside the urban limits, cutting the need for long-distance transportation and decreasing the price and time for delivery. The idea is not new, but it is finally becoming real as the construction of the first Plantscraper has already started in Sweden, in the heart of the city of Linkoping. The “urban farm,” 17 stories in height, will provide the city with a natural “farm market” in the city by the end of next year, when it is expected to be completed. Plantagon has designed 3 ways of integrating farming in the city

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

First, by making the facade a productive greenhouse. Plantagon has designed a six-meter-deep greenhouse wrapping the building facade. The technology consists of conveyors carrying pots with plants and rotating them regularly on 90 degrees, so that they receive sunlight  on all sides. This kind of facade provides, at the same time, enough light in the office spaces inside, but also a good shade and regulates the temperature. Another example involves integrating the urban farm into existing buildings. They call it the Parasite, as it looks like one attached to the structure. The third example is what the team believes can in the future become a common part of cities and suburbs, just like big supermarkets are now, and it’s the one under construction in Sweden.

How Does Urban Agriculture Work?

The innovative architecture of the building allows sunlight to all parts of the spirally organized space, covered by a glass sphere. The designers from Plantagon have won a Silver Stevie Award for being “the most innovative company of the year” in Europe. They have invented a self-sufficient system, which uses leftover heat, organic waste, and carbon dioxide to produce Biofuel. They also use excess heat generated during cold periods.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

The production in the Plantscarper in Linkoping will happen in pots, which will be fit into trays that will be irrigated by funnels. All the wastewater will be collected and reused. The amount of pesticides and fertilizer will easily be controlled by an automatic system and, in this way, soil pollution will be avoided. Once planted, the trays will be transported by a special elevator to the top of the helix, where they will start their journey down the spiral structure as they grow. When they reach the ground floor, they will be ready to be automatically harvested. It makes all-year-round production easy, efficient, and compact.

Why Plantscrapers?

The smallest model of the Plantscraper will be able to feed about 10,000 people per year and will cost about $10 million to $20 million. But the trick is that it will be paid for in production. The Plantscraper is not only a way to produce food in crowded urban areas; it is a possible solution to other urban life conditions nowadays. But it is also a good example of multifunctional use of a building, including the waste materials in the productions process. Article written by Yuliya Georgieva 

This article was originally submitted to Landscape Architects Network

Prezi -The Zooming Presentation Tool

In this day and age, presentations are a necessary way of conveying information to a large group of people. Because of their perceived staleness, they have become one of the most dreaded things to make, give and listen to. For designers, the presentation is do-or-die time for selling a project. Perhaps that is why architect and visual designer Adam Somlai-Fisher, from Budapest, began using a zoomable user interface (ZUI) in 2001. His initial presentations were coded separately but when presentations were successful, he and Assistant Professor Peter Halacsy, Budapest University of Technology hatched the idea of ‘Prezi’ in 2009, as a publicly available ZUI. They brought in technology entrepenuer Peter Arvai and their product has really taken off in recent years. They are constantly updating and adding new functions, so for tech junkies out there, it is a fun concept to watch evolve.

A user friendly way to guide you to a great presentation.

How does Prezi work? For those that have used architectural programs such as Autocad and Sketchup, Prezi is not difficult to pick up. Here we will run through some of the basic tools, and show a presentation of our own to display the ways designers could use Prezi. The zebra tool is their signature way of editing objects, text and other media that can be integrated into Prezi.  It is used for rotating, scaling, deleting, cropping and grouping.  As you can see in the diagram, it is pretty straightforward. Text is created in Prezi simply by double clicking anywhere in space.  The text editor is still somewhat limited, and font options have to be controlled through the themes editor in the top toolbar.  Other features of the toolbar include the ability to integrate images, Powerpoint, Youtube videos, shapes and frames.

Whatever you need, put it in!

Fancier edits and enhancements Frames represent one of two ways to create transitions between scenes.  The other is to ‘add current view’ under the path editor on the left side of the screen.  Frames allow you to control the view with more precision.  Frames can be rotated a full 360 degrees, allowing for a sort of spinning effect during the presentation.  Frames can be visible during the presentation as a bracket, circle, or rectangle, or they can be invisible. Objects in Prezi cannot actually be viewed as if they are in 3D space, although it can be made to feel that way.  For instance, in our example, the earth is a 2D image, not an actual globe that can be seen from all sides.  It looks like it could be because of the 3D background feature, in this case outer space. This allows for up to 3 images to be overlaid, with a fading effect between them. Prezi takes care of the 3D effect through the themes editor’s advanced settings.  The size of the backgrounds depends on the size and pixels of the image, a feature that is still a bit tricky to get to work consistently, although they do state a recommended width of 3000 pixels for 3D backgrounds.

Frame it, spin it, change it.

The potential for this program is immense! There is much more to learn with experimentation, and the potential for this program is immense.  The best way to learn is to try it yourself and push the limits of what it can do.  Some people have done just that, creating special flash buttons that can be pasted into Prezi to do things it is yet unable to, such as background music. We wanted to give you a few ideas on how Prezi could be used in our profession so without further ado, here is our Prezi, featuring The Netherlands’ Park 20|20, by William McDonough+Partners. If Prezi fails to load click on this link Article written by  Peter Salamon

This article was originally submitted to Landscape Architects Network

Urban Foraging- Just What Can You Eat Out There?

With the threat of food security looming, experts expect “food” to become an ever-increasing part of our landscape; yet it’s already here! Albeit perhaps on a different scale than Vertical Farms or Productive Landscapes, foraging has opened many peoples’ eyes to just how productive and intricate our landscapes can be. In a previous article, I shared an overview of what foraging is, as well as some things to be excited about and aware of. That article focused on rural foraging. Here, we’ll take a look at something that is perhaps a bit closer to home for many of us – urban foraging. Although connected, it is not to be confused with freeganing or “Dumpster diving”,  where people opt out of the capitalist-economic system by trying to avoid buying as much as possible. Popular with the Local Food Movement and Locavores, urban foraging is sourcing “wild” food and herbs within an urban or city environment. Urban foraging directly links us to the landscape and raises our awareness of food, opening up exciting propositions in terms of food, society, and urbanism. UNLIKELY PLACES Take a walk around your city – what do you see? In place of woodland edges, hedgerows, and grassy fields there are bushy shrubs in council beds, and embankments along roads and parks. No doubt these are filled with edible berries and weeds. This is precisely the point. Do you see a scraggly bush by the motorway? Or do you see a small part of a potential food system that could run for miles? The idea of Productive landscapes and vegetable-growing towns such as Todmorden and Middlesborough in the UK has been talked about elsewhere on LAN. What these initiatives highlight is the potential productivity our towns and cities can instigate. Foragers take advantage of what productivity is already there. For instance, Abundance – a community project based in Chiswick, London — picks fruit from private land, such as apples, pears, plums, and so on, that would otherwise go to waste (and make a small donation to the land owner). ETHICS? With links to, and the emergence of, guerilla gardening, it is easier to forage than ever before, although the dangers of foraging mentioned in the previous article apply here just as much. Nascent urban foragers should also be aware that at the moment in the UK, it is illegal to pick fruit from overhanging branches. It’s  issues like this that foraging could help raise awareness of: What’s more ethical, to leave a tree unpicked in abidance of the law or to pick a fruit off the tree before it falls to the ground and is wasted? ATTACK THE FRONT LAWN The idea of waste vs. productivity is something analyzed by Diana Balmori and artist Fritz Haeg in their project Edible Estates: Attack the Front Lawn. The principle here is that the American front lawn is a huge drain on water resources across the country – but what if we used these areas more productively? What if you had an edible front lawn? As Balmori says, “Our private land can be a public model for the world in which we would like to live.” Indeed, your back garden is one of the best places to forage; from Chickweed (Stellaria media) –yummy in salads — to Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) – good in risottos. Don’t dismiss common Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) either – young nettles are absolutely packed with nutrients and are used in a wide range of medicines, from shampoos to prevent dandruff to supplements to combat arthritis.  Don’t just put them in the bin — make a hearty nettle soup, some nettle wine with a kick, or a foraged version of a saag aloo. A few last words to remind those inspired by the article to be careful. Be mindful that gardeners or councils could have sprayed pesticides or chemicals on what you are picking. Also, don’t forget to ask permission if on private land, and never uproot a plant! Of course, one of the most important rules is to only take what you need – or even less. Don’t over forage. Yet who knows: If Edible City plans, productive landscapes, and Green Infrastructure come to play a bigger part in our cities, one day the urban jungle could be filled with spoils rich for the picking! Article by Sonia Jackett

This article was originally submitted to Landscape Architects Network

Design in The Venus Project

As the modern issues of global warming and the economic crisis continue to escalate, people are trying to find solutions to delay negative effects or entirely alter the source of the problem. Most don’t want to face the facts. Temporary solutions are a popular because a total and complete change seems insurmountable. But that is exactly what Jacque Fresco proposes in his elaborate and impressive “Venus Project”.  The main aim of the project is social change towards the ultimate goal of sustainable, equal and prosperous living. The world in the Venus Project would be resource-based and would eliminate the current monetary and political framework. Ideally, it would provide a high quality of life for everyone and allow for humanity to live in an ecological and non-damaging way. This would mean changing how society itself operatesand the principles we have based our civilization on, including architecture, living habits and surroundings. The basic design idea for houses in the Venus Project would be based on adaptability and flexibility. These mass-crafted homes would be built from pre-fabricated materials that are weather resistant and eco-friendly. Houses integrated into the natural surroundings, whether it’s urban, woods, islands, sea or plains, would be unique to their context and the design would meet the specific needs of its owners. Jacque Fresco’s vision presents  geometrical shapes  with flowing lines, something you might find in a 1980s sci-fi flick. Clean white lines and large expanses of glass endow the outside, as well as technological features such as photovoltaic panels and thermo panes that control the level of light. These extra-safe, mass-produced and quick-to-build houses represent the future in civil design.

Center city ring

Center city ring

The  planning policies of cities would be redesigned with the vision of a more self-sustaining and environmentally friendly way of living. Practicality and accessibility would also form the basis of the cities of Venus Project. Fresco uses the most perfect shape, the circle, to design a multi-ringed, geometrical and efficient form for his future city. This design would save on transportation costs, increase accessibility to amenities, as well as integrate green zones and gardens within urban planning. The planning is related to the Thünen rings. Every ring encompasses certain facilities placed in a certain order to simplify access and transport. For inhospitable areas of the planet, Fresco suggests state-of-the-art subterranean cities with an advanced network of elevators which provide connections with the surface. These types of cities would have all the resources and amenities of normal cities.
Trains play a critical role in the framework of the city

High-speed trains play a critical role in the framework of the city

One particularly interesting design in Jacque Fresco’s Venus Project is the three tripod skyscrapers, which can withstand any kind of damage and can help to diminish chaotic urban expansion. The mega-structure accommodates all the needs of the inhabitants, including parks, public spaces and amenities.  The main building materials would be concrete, glass and steel which would be reinforced and pre-stressed to ensure quality. Coastal cities are another innovative idea in the Venus Project. The construction of such cities would solve overcrowding problems, planning predicaments, as well as bring attention to new resources and creative activities. Technically, these cities can be built at sea as modules and can be moved in the water, and anchored in place on the sea floor. These would not only be inhabitable cities, but could also be living aquatic museums, offering education, as well as a better life for the marine life in its framework. The environment can also be used as a resource to farm marine life. Filters can be incorporated to clean the waters in its surroundings, thus maintaining equilibrium. Coastal city rendering His design ideas also incorporate efficient transport systems in an attempt to reduce pollution and delays. Of course, high-speed trains are first on the list, and sci-fi inspired detachable modules, which can be picked up while the train is moving would be featured. This practice conserves energy and makes for better logistics. Aircrafts will have different kinds of propulsion, from regular propellers to magnetic and hovering devices, even incorporating air vortex columns to lift up passengers. Cars will be eco-friendly, long range and high-speed, either with wheels or levitation devices. Voice recognition and self-monitoring systems will make for a practical and safe means of travel.
Coastal city rendering

Coastal city rendering

The designs of the Venus Project not only push the boundaries of form and ideas, but also change our materialistic culture. Self-sustainability, practicality and ecology are the main goals of a renewed society, which can only be obtained by smart and innovative design and planning. Jacque Fresco’s project may be far off from being reality, but it may be something we may have to resort to once our present way of living cannot be sustained any longer. To learn more about the Venus Project, click here Article written by Oana Anghelache

This article was originally submitted to Landscape Architects Network

Pedestrianized Landscapes Embracing The People

Ever since the wheel was invented, it has taken precedence over foot traffic. Wheeled vehicles—particularly motorized ones—rule the road and shape our public spaces. In fact, when you think of the word city, what comes to mind? Pedestrianized Landscapes or… Traffic. Traffic jams. And lots of people. For the most part, our cities have evolved into a snarl of vehicles, jockeying bumper to bumper and competing with swarms of sidewalk hoppers. We could blame it on a number of factors, from the spread of suburbia to the scarcity of public transportation. But no matter how we look at it, one battle will always surface: man vs. machine. Urban designers are becoming increasingly aware of the difficulties of trying to reconcile pedestrians with traffic. Many cities are developing methods to remove heavy traffic from their centers and instead present those spaces as points of accessibility and human interaction. Pedestrianized Landscapes

"Creative Commons Amagertorv - Strøget". Source Axel Kuhlmann, licensed under CC 2.0

“Creative Commons Amagertorv – Strøget”. Source Axel Kuhlmann, licensed under CC 2.0

Copenhagen, Denmark, is one city that has made a switch toward becoming pedestrian friendly.   Beginning in 1962, city officials shifted the focus from an optimized vehicular flow and implemented pedestrian initiatives, with the ultimate goal of creating a balance between traffic areas and pedestrian thoroughfares. While many cities experience booming growth followed by the polarization of vehicle traffic and traffic-on-foot, the foresight of Copenhagen’s city planners rescued it from a similar fate.
"Creative Commons BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group - SUK - Superkilen Park". Source Forgemind ArchiMedia, licensed under CC 2.0

“Creative Commons BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group – SUK – Superkilen Park, Copenhagen, Denmark”. Source Forgemind ArchiMedia, licensed under CC 2.0

Today, approximately 37 percent of the people who work in the city use bicycles as their mode of transportation.  In more than 100 locations, bicycles may be borrowed for a cost of around $2.50 and returned when no longer needed–for a refund. Bicycle lanes were added and traffic speeds reduced to promote a more human-friendly city. Many of Copenhagen’s streets were converted into pedestrian-only areas that have encouraged citizens and tourists to park their cars.
"Creative Commons A Public bicycles in Frederikshavn". Wikimedia Commons user Heb, licensed under CC 3.0

“Creative Commons A Public bicycles in Frederikshavn”. Wikimedia Commons user Heb, licensed under CC 3.0

With fewer vehicles on the streets, large parking areas were converted into relaxing public squares, increasing the city’s charm. Copenhagen now boasts more than 100,000 square meters dedicated to pedestrians. Overall, the emphasis placed on pedestrians in the early 1960s has given Copenhagen a head start in the emerging focus on accessibility and human scale in contemporary city designs. But is it possible to have a car-free city? To many, that’s an oxymoron; but not to the citizens of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, situated 30 km southeast of Brussels, in the French-speaking part of the country. Due to an emergency relocation caused by a language dispute during the 1960s, the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) bought a 9-km-square plot on the Lauzelle plateau, a somewhat isolated stretch of fields and woods. But how would they go about creating their new center?  The inspiration for the university-city came down to two men–Michel Woitrin, general trustee of UCL, and Professor Raymond Lemaire, specialist in ancient cities. With the desire for a fresh outlook, they set down nine planning principles to aid in the new city’s construction.

  • A custom-made city
  • A pedestrian city (diameter of the city is less than 2.5 km)
  • Urban center with a human face
  • Urban atmosphere, with a town center, from the beginning
  • The site is the city matrix
  • A well-defined entity in the landscape
  • The university is the engine of the city
  • The university is integrated in the city
  • Flexible design

Guided by these principles, the design began to take shape. The heart of the city is built on a 7-hectare, 39-cm thick concrete slab. It is on this concrete slab, which covers public roads, parking lots, and a train station, that the buildings were constructed. So while access to the city is simple, the traffic is eliminated. Ever heard the expression “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”? They can.  Louvain-la-Neuve is now a thriving, growing city with the loudest noises not caused by street traffic, but by the boisterous hum of people mingling in pubs and shops dotted along the cobblestone streets. For the approximately 30,000 people in and around Louvain-la-Neuve, tossing out their car keys and lacing up their sneakers is an everyday experience.

"Creative Commons BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group - SUK - Superkilen Park". Source Forgemind ArchiMedia, licensed under CC 2.0

“Creative Commons BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group – SUK – Superkilen Park, Copenhagen, Denmark”. Source Forgemind ArchiMedia, licensed under CC 2.0

But, you may argue, vehicles have opened up the world to us. Economically, culturally–in fact, in almost every aspect–our species’ mobility has created global awareness. There is no denying the fact that the advancement of our technology has provided us with the comforts of today. There is also no denying the fact that to continue on this single-minded tunnel to success will ultimately plunder and destroy the progress that has been made. We’re already paying the price for this fever of energy consumption and push for vehicular accessibility in our increasingly desperate attempts to locate fossil fuels and, more seriously, in our misguided mentality that we can’t live without motorized transportation. With the noisy, smelly, dirty, hot world safely ignored behind our tinted automatic windows, we cruise through life without really experiencing our humanity. And it’s the norm. To us, a pedestrian-centric city is an anomaly, a really nice idea, but not reality. Not if you want to get things done. But is life all about doing?  Last time I checked, we were still called human beings. So maybe it’s time to embrace the mentality that these forward-thinking cities have presented to us: that the world is not only a place to get the job done, but a place to be. Article written by guest writer Linda Freymond Featured image; credit:

This article was originally submitted to Landscape Architects Network

Top 10 Plants for Valentine’s Day

The language of flowers: A red rose means passionate love, a white rose means innocence, forget-me-nots stand for remembrance and true love. These are just a few letters from the extensive and varied alphabet of plants! Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to learn more about these plants for valentine’s day. This article will help you understand what your girlfriend meant by adding “lovage” to your dinner and prevent you from acting surprised when you find poppy seeds stuffed into your pillow! With this knowledge in hand, those in relationships might surprise their partners, and the single ones might win that heart they have been longing for. Here are a few chosen plants worth knowing on Valentine’s Day: 10. Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia)

Vanilla plant, credit;

Vanilla plant, credit;

Vanilla is a species of orchid native to Mexico. It is best known as a food flavoring. The part of the plant used in the food industry is the fruit, or pods; vanilla flavoring is added to food as powder or extracted oil. Sometimes whole pods are used. But there are other, less conventional, uses for vanilla pods: Tucked under the bed, they are thought to lower your lover’s inhibitions. And be careful when you come back with the pods from a store–vanilla carried on the person apparently causes others to find you seductive. 9. Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)
Carnation, Dianthus caryophyllus; creit

Carnation, Dianthus caryophyllus; credit

Carnation is a small herbaceous perennial plant. The modern cultivars can be anything  from the original pink to red, white, yellow, blue, and green. Carnations are often worn on special occasions, such as Mother’s Day in America and Parent’s or Teacher’s Day in Korea. They are a symbol for many organizations and societies, but also of betrothal or marriage. Pink and red symbolize missing someone’s love. If, after a proposal, you are given a solid-colored flower, rejoice–it means “yes”. A striped one, however, is a refusal. White speaks of innocence and pure love, yellow of disappointment or rejection. 8. Poppy (Papaver somniferum)
Poppy, Papaver somniferum; credit:

Poppy, Papaver somniferum; credit:

Opium Poppy is the species of plant from which opium and poppy seeds are derived. Opium is the source of many drugs, most notably morphine. Poppy seeds and poppy seed oil are important food ingredients and contain very low levels of opiates. The Latin botanical name means the “sleep-bringing poppy”. The name is quite accurate. It is said that poppy seeds stuffed in your lover’s pillow will make him dream of you. Poppy seed is also a symbol of fertility and prosperity. It has been used in amulets and charms to confer love, money, and luck, as well as in divination. 7. Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
Bay Laurel, Laurus nobilis; credit:

Bay Laurel, Laurus nobilis; credit:

Bay Laurel is an evergreen Mediterranean plant, prominent in classical Greek, Roman, and Biblical culture. Its aromatic leaves are relevant for their essential oil content. They are most commonly used as a spice, especially in Italian cuisine. Laurel is seen as a symbol of victory, prosperity, and fame. It is said to awaken awareness and past life memories, and to stimulate psychic awareness, health, and the powers of divination. The leaves represent “the glory of love”. To attract a soulmate, you should put them in a bath or carry them on you at all times. 6. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis; credit:

Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis; credit:

Rosemary is a species of a perennial, evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean region. It has numerous culinary and medicinal uses. most notably to improve memory. That is why it has been popular at weddings and funerals since the Middle Ages, standing for remembrance and fidelity. In the Middle Ages, the bride would wear a rosemary headpiece and the groom and wedding guests would all wear a sprig of rosemary. That is where it got its reputation as a love charm. Traditionally, a branch of rosemary would be planted by a young couple on their wedding day; the growing plant was a good omen for the new family. It is said that if you touch a lover with a sprig of rosemary, she will be faithful or the couple will fall in love. Rosemary was also used for divination and to repel nightmares and witches. 5. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Close-up of fragrant Hawaiian sweet wild ginger blooms along; credit: shutterstock.comClose-up of fragrant Hawaiian sweet wild ginger blooms along; credit:

Ginger is a plant from the family Zingiberaceae. The most important part of the plant, from the culinary and cultural point of view, is its root, or rhizome. From it, a hot, fragrant kitchen spice is produced. The younger the rhizomes, the milder the spice. It is a vital ingredient in Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and many South Asian cuisines. It is also used in folk medicine to cure nausea, cold, headache, and impotence. It might even arouse a reluctant lover! It works when consumed or sprinkled under the sheets. For best results, add it to other love-drawing herbs. 4. Lovage (Levisticum officinale) Lovage is a tall, herbaceous, perennial plant that belongs to the Apiaceae family, together with parsley and celery. The leaves can be used in salads and soups, while the roots may be eaten as a vegetable. Like many other species from this family, lovage contains furanocoumarins, which might cause photosensitivity. Its name comes from “love-ache”–“ache” being a medieval name for parsley. It bears the name of love in several other languages, for example in Polish. It is strongly believed to be a beauty and love herb–an ultimate aphrodisiac. Lovage tea before bed is believed to give you psychic dreams, and a sachet of this herb carried on you will attract love to you. If you want to become particularly beautiful, place it under the tap water when running a bath.

Lovage, Levisticum officinale,

Lovage, Levisticum officinale; credit:

3. Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
Maca, Lepidium meyenii; credit:

Maca, Lepidium meyenii; credit:

Maca is an herbaceous biennial plant from the family Brassicaceae, native to the high Andes of Peru. Its fleshy hypocotyl is used as a vegetable, medicine, and aphrodisiac and fertility booster for both men and women. Some tests show that maca can improve semen quantity and quality, as well as boost libido in both genders. It is claimed to be an effective alternative to hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women. It is said that Inca warriors derived their great fierceness, braveness, and sexual drive from eating vast amounts of maca! 2. Orange (Citrus x sinensis)
Orange tree; credit:

Orange tree; credit:

Orange is a small tree, a hybrid between two other species, possibly between pomelo (Citrus maxima) and mandarin (Citrus reticulata), cultivated since ancient times. Orange fruit continues to rank high among the best-known and loved fruit in the world. The orange tree stands for love and marriage in many cultures. Its fruit is sometimes found in Renaissance paintings of married couples. Orange might also symbolize luck, fertility, and money. Its fragrant blossoms are symbolic of purity, chastity, and generosity. It is also believed that the orange tree was actually the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Eden and that the oranges grew in Hera’s Garden of the Hesperides. Orange oil, perfume, or a sachet is said to attract a marriage proposal. 1. Rose (Rosa sp.)
Rose plant; credit:

Rose plant; credit:

The red rose seems to be the ultimate symbol of passionate and romantic love, beauty, and courage. However, in Christianity, it also is a symbol of Christ’s martyrdom. Roses of all colors seem to be quite “talkative” flowers, though their language seems a bit inconsistent at times. The white ones stand for purity or virginity, as well as silence and secrecy; the yellow ones mean infidelity, but also friendship and jealousy. The pink rose speaks of sweetness, the crimson of respect, orange stands for eternal life or desire, and purple for modesty. A rare black rose means death and farewell. A single bloom given to someone says “I love you”. Red and white roses given together signify unity. A wreath of roses is symbolic of heavenly joy. To speak with roses, you definitely need a dictionary or a good translator to avoid tragic mistakes! For generations, humans have believed that the above plants, and many others, will bring them love, luck, and sexual ability. Today, we might not believe in magic anymore, and the alphabet of flowers has been simplified and partially forgotten. However, love requited is still what we most desire. The beautiful flowers, magical plants, and aphrodisiacs might not work on a purely scientific level. It just might be a placebo, the mood of the Valentine’s Day, or a psychological effect. However, if it brings just a little bit of magic, romanticism, and love into our lives, it surely must be worth trying! Article written by Marta Ratajszczak

This article was originally submitted to Landscape Architects Network

Interview With Landscape Architect & Skater Janne Saario

We interview Janne Saario – the keen pro skater turned landscape architect, designing some of the most innovative skate parks in the world! His creative thinking and personal experience of the landscape through the skateboard is what makes the difference from the rest of skatepark designers. Until now he has completed a few skate parks which according to the skaters riding them are an absolutely different way of feeling the landscape. They say “what makes his design different is the fact that he thinks even about the smallest detail”.  We managed to get a little glimpse into his thoughts, experience and plans for the future, in an interview for you.

  • So you have been a skater most of your life and a large part of it professionally. Where there any skate parks back when you started out or were you just using the immense possibilities the surrounding landscape could offer?
Janne Saario

Janne Saario

There were no skateparks that would really be interesting, so we skated a local schoolyard and the different places in the city; squares, streets and courtyards. The shapes that fitted skateboarding were designed for other purposes than skateboarding. This was very fascinating and gave a nice perspective to architecture.

  • While travelling the world for competitions and skating spaces others have designed, did you feel they were not offering enough possibilities? Did you ever imagine changing something for a better experience?  Except for being your passion, was skateboarding the driving force to get you into landscape architecture?

There are always places in the city that would be perfect for skateboarding, but often there tends to be a tiny little design decision that ruins the dream. This is not the designers fault of course, because he/she would not know about skateboarding and the places are not designed for that purpose.

From Pro Skater to Landscape Architect.....

From Pro Skater to Landscape Architect…..

But I had a kind of idea that what if I could infiltrate the designing process; sneak in and do that little twist to make places better for skateboarding. This idea has faded a bit during the years of becoming a designer as so many other aspects in environment have grown to be very important. But I can definitely say that skateboarding was the driving force to get me into landscape architecture.

  • How and when did you start working on skate parks design? Was it after you started university or during your pro – skateboarding career? 

Actually, it was in between that transition. I got my first commission during the same year as I started my studies. I was already working in one architecture office (Casagrande & Rintala) who were doing international works. I just got back from a work camp in Echigo-Tsumari Art triennal in Japan, when I got my first own project. I was still travelling as a pro-skater too. My first project was a main skatepark in Helsinki and this project really inspired me to focus more on landscape architecture than skateboarding.

Steelpark, Luleå, Sweden

Steelpark, Luleå, Sweden

  • In July last year you did a “DIY concrete workshop” with architectural students to design and build skate obstacles. Some of them were not skaters. Do you think that makes a big difference in the design thinking of skate parks? How does it feel to “ride“their landscape ideas?  

It was great to work with the students. The passion for learning about organically shaped concrete among the students was enormous. I’m looking at skateparks from a very architectonical point of view, so in that sense it was just great and free to work with them. We could explore different shapes and came up with this volcano-shape that was an outdoor grill at the same time. The smoke rising from the concrete volcano fitted well with the industrial landscape with the factory pipes etc.

  • Do you think of designing your skate parks to be multi-functional? Can skateboarding be mixed with other similar sports or completely different activities in your opinion?

I think that at its best, the result is not a skatepark. It could be more like a big environmental art work in the landscape that can be skated, climbed, parkoured, played, biked or just hung out in. Conventional thinking of a training facility doesn’t work that well for skateboarding. The sport has grown up and evolved in environments that have not been designed for skateboarding, like parkour and bmx too. So why not focus a bit more on architecture schemes while making sure it works great for skateboarding too.

Steelpark, Luleå, Sweden

Steelpark, Luleå, Sweden

  • Spending such a significant part of your life skateboarding and travelling do you have a favorite skate park or place?

I love to skate the plazas in Spain.

Plaza de la Encarnacion in Seville, Spain.

Plaza de la Encarnacion in Seville, Spain.

  • You have started up your career in landscape architecture with skate parks but you say that you will be excited to explore other challenges in design such as golf courses and cemeteries. Why these two? Do you think you’ll be able to create an exceptional experience for golf players as well without becoming one?

Golf course designing is a dream that goes along with the passion for that sport. I love to golf, but at this period of life I don’t have enough time for it. So that scene can wait a bit. Same goes with the cemetery. I’m attracted to the woodland cemetery in Stockholm from Gunnar Asplund and the strong relationship between the landscape and symbolic values in life. If I fail at being a pro-golfer at least I’ll get familiar with the essence of cemetery at the last years of my career, knowing the fact that this is a job that we usually don’t retire from.

Steelpark, Luleå, Sweden

Steelpark, Luleå, Sweden

  • What are your goals and dreams for 2013? What would you wish to our readers?

I have five big skatepark assignments from which 3 are to be built in the upcoming summer, so to get these done successfully and to take care of my family at the same time is my goal. Work and personal life need to be well balanced. The life we are living during our “free time” should inspire our work. That is something I love about being a landscape architect and a skateboarder. Interview conducted by Yuliya Georgieva Website: Janne Saario

This article was originally submitted to Landscape Architects Network

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