Have you seen the great video series “The surroundings”. They are a series of short films looking at Metro Vancouver’s public spaces from the perspective of the landscape architects that created them. It is an opportunity to learn from experienced professionals and their role in the creation of our surroundings.
The first video of the series is dedicated to Don Vaughan and is focused on the public art as an instrument of place making. Don Vaughan is now a retired landscape architect with a work experience of more than 40 years. After exploring landscape architecture he decided to turn his attention towards art. The combination of both disciplines results in his assignment from the authorities for the City’s Public Art Program. The video (see below) captured me because it tells a story about two of my most favorite elements in landscape architecture – water and art. It is absolute luck to work with water in landscape design. Water elements have a powerful and magnetic influence on people. They are usually the focal point of every composition, the most attractive spot on the landscape. It is a pleasure to sit around, to observe, to play in the summer, no matter if it is a small fountain or a magnificent lake, a riverside or the coast line.In the video you can find the story of three public spaces and their unique process of creation and reinterpretation. Each of them has a challenging task for the landscape architect. In their design the architect aims at recreation of the natural form of the surrounding environment interrupted with urban materials and architectural forms. Playing with the existing natural powers as the ocean tide (see also Sun Salutation and The Sea Organ), he manages to create a unique and interesting place using land art he shows the public the changes that are happening in their own environment. The design successfully incorporates the issue of time making it even more exciting and ever changing, giving it multiple dimensions from which is can be appreciated. The Heart and Soul of the Landscape It shows a refined way to look into places and materials. It suggests a way to make public spaces that we enjoy to inhabit. To convert a place that was holding a negative image into an enjoyable place through the use of public art. Public art can enhance the meaning of a place and encourage interaction. It is the heart and soul of the landscape. Very often, we as landscape architects and students fall into the trap of design frustration, trying to create a masterpiece from a scratch. We overlook the most important – that design is a process. Sometimes the good ideas come out of a lot of time spent on observation of the surroundings, of each element alone and their relationship between each other. As Michelangelo says “Every block of stone has a statue inside”.It is the sculptor who has to show it to the rest of the world. Discover how to turn a neglected place into the most preferable and how to incorporate public art in a meaningful and inspiring way. Enjoy the video and have a creative day!
Surroundings: Episode 1
Article written by Slavyana Popcheva Featured image: Screen shot from Surroundings: Episode 1 via YoutubePublished in