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Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture Brings New Life to Constitution Avenue

Article by Maria Giovanna Drago Constitution Avenue by Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture along with Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects, and MEC in Canberra, Australia. Constitution Avenue is a key street in Canberra, Australia. In fact, along with Commonwealth and Kings Avenues, it forms the city’s basic geometric design guidelines that developed Canberra in the 1900s. Situated in a lively area, it’s adjacent to residential and commercial buildings, but also recreational and cultural activities. In 2016, Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture completed the renewal project after four years of construction. The renovation brought modernity to this roadside axis, rewriting its role in the city. We can say that Constitution Avenue was influenced by great western avenues like the Champs-Élysées in Paris or La Rambla in Barcelona. The City Design Walter B. Griffin was an American architect and landscape architect who won the international competition for the design of the new capital city in 1912. He and his wife, Marion, developed a plan and ran an architecture firm together. “I have planned it not in a way that I expected any government authorities in the world would accept. I have planned an ideal city – a city that meets my ideal of the city of the future,” said Griffin.

Original Canberra map

Canberra Design Plan by Walter B. Griffin and Marion M. Griffin took inspiration from Ebenezer Howard’s Garden city movement. Credit: National Archives of Australia

Three avenues form the perimeter of the National Triangle, which is the heart of the city with public and administrative buildings as well as a tourist center. It hosts the Parliament House, the Australian Department of Defense, and the City Hill Park respectively in each of its extremities. The city neatly established around two orthogonal axes that imaginatively cross the center of the National Triangle, which is managed by the National Capital Authority. The Australian Landscape The Griffin’s first heard about the competition while on their honeymoon and pursued it once they returned home. Marion M. Griffin was responsible for the beautiful renderings that impressed the jury, while Walter was responsible for the design. Their project beat out 137 entries and brought them instant notoriety and public recognition.
Marion Griffin sketch of Canberra

Rendering from the Summit of Mount Ainslie in Canberra by Marion Griffin, 1911. Credit: National Archives of Australia

During Walter’s first trip to Australia he was so fascinated by the natural landscape that he gave plant names to avenues, parks, and neighborhoods such as Clienthus Circle, Blandfordia, and Telopea Park. Ultimately, his design stemmed from his fascination and the concept was characterized by an open atmosphere. Long avenues were flanked with large deciduous trees and the buildings were set in lush, grassy meadows composed of narrow paths amidst rolling hills to represent the countryside. The Avenue Constitution Avenue extends almost 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) from the northwest to southeast and it’s nearly parallel to the Burley Griffin Lake coastline. The City Hill and The Department of Defense are located at its edges and intersect with the Anzac Parade artery in its center. Previously a two-lane, two-way road with parking on the west side, its new design focuses on users, devoting space to pedestrians, and improving the mobility of public and private vehicles.
Constitution Avenue

Constitution Avenue designed by Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture. Credit: John Gollings

Constitution Ave

Constitution Avenue facing northwest. Credit: John Gollings

Constitution Ave

The redesign of Constitution Avenue won the Canberra Medallion as well as the ACT’s top award for urban design. Credit: John Gollings

Today there are multi-direction, double-lane roadways separated by a one-meter wide traffic island, which is tree-lined and planted with small shrubs. Due to better organization and planning, the sidewalks are now wider and the previous paths have been eliminated. They were so badly designed that pedestrians were forced to walk in “zig-zags” or into narrow corridors. Now there’s a linear and continuous pedestrian pathway, which is protected by a greenbelt. The sidewalk on the west side is comprised of several rows of trees, a pedestrian walkway, and resting places equipped with seating. Additionally, motorists can park in parallel parking spaces, which are located at intervals along the road, that also feature dedicated areas for bus stops.
Constitution Ave

Constitution Avenue. Credit: John Gollings

The Furniture Street Furniture Australia manufactured the street furniture, while Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects designed it. Throughout the urban boulevard, various wooden furniture styles dot the site including linear benches with and without backrests, C-shaped seats, and squared tables. Perhaps the most impressive detail are the brass armrests.
Constitution Ave

Furniture on Constitution Avenue. Credit: John Gollings

The Flora Over the years, half of the existing oak trees have been removed because of their poor condition and replaced with English and pin oaks, Italian cypresses, and crepe myrtles. Trees are arranged in ordered rows and organized by variety. The only evergreen is the Italian cypress, while the crepe myrtle is the lone blooming tree with pink flowers from July to September.
Constitution Ave

Crepe myrtles in bloom along Constitution Avenue. Credit: John Gollings

The Design Firm Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture is a midsize firm with an intimate approach to design. Their strength lies in maintaining a talented group of landscape architects and horticulturalists with a specific interest in deeply analyzing the fundamental characteristics. They focus on elements that make a landscape, cultural influences across history, and geographic evolution. We described two different approaches to a road design, but we’re not here to determine which one is better. Can you suggest any additional options? Full Project Credits Constitution Avenue: Landscape Architect: Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture Collaborators: Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects, MEC Urban Equipment: Design: Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects, Manufacturing: Street Furniture Australia Tree Supplier: Established Tree Transplanters & Nurseries Location: Canberra, Australia Project Years: 2012-2016 Cost: $33 million USD Client: Roads ACT for ACT Government Recommended Reading:

Featured image: Constitution Avenue | Canberra, Australia | John Gollings | 2016

Colombia’s Got Talent – 10 Examples of Colombian Design

Article by Mayré Rivero Bueno Continuing on with our world series, we have selected 10 projects that represent Colombian design. Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world with 40,000 to 45,000 plant species, which is 10 to 20 percent of the total global species and holds the top spot for number of bird species—surpassed only by Brazil. The country is home to Rogelio Salmona (1929-2007) a Colombian architect that worked with Le Corbusier for six years at his studio in Paris from 1948 to 1954. Rogelio is among Colombia’s most celebrated modernist architects; he is the author of multiple architectonic and urban landmarks—most of them are found in Bogotá. So, let’s take a look at some known (and some not-so-known) projects in Colombia. 10. Parque Bicentenario (Bicentenario Park), by The Mazzanti Team, Bogotá  A bridge is an element that connects two points. The Mazzanti Team took this concept and elevated it, making it greener. To do this, they took a section of 26 Avenue and covered it to create a 4.6-hectare (11-acre) park that was designed to help revitalize a neighboring park. The park consists of eight small vegetated squares full of native and easily adapted plants. In total, there are 41,000 plants.

Bicentenario Park

Bicentenario Park. Credit: GreenRoofs

9. Parques del Río (Parks by the River), by Latitud, Medellín With its first stage barely completed, this is the most ambitious mega-urban project in Medellín. Ultimately, the project’s intent is to connect both sides of the river through pedestrian bridges and linear parks. With a ten-year schedule, its first stage was delivered last year and it’s ongoing. Slated for completion in 2026, it will become the largest public green space in the city.
Parks by the River

Parks by the River. Credit: Antonio Maggiolo

8. Park Citadel 29 of July, by The Mazzanti Team + AEV Architects, Santa Marta  This project is part of a plan to recover the Manzanares Riverfront in Santa Marta. Through the city’s hydrological system, the design team crafted a network of recreational spaces across the riverfront. Featuring a synthetic soccer field, a playground, an adult gym area, a multi-purpose area, multiple gardens, and pedestrian walkways—it’s a popular spot for families.
Park Citadel 29 of July

Park Citadel 29 of July. Credit: Rodrigo Dávila

7. Principal Park Agueda Gallardo Recovery, by Arquitectura y Espacio + Carlos Puebla y Verónica Cruz, Pamplona Despite its small size, the city decided to rejuvenate the Principal Park Agueda Gallardo as a place for people to meet and gather. The general design concept is based on the linear nature of the space and its simplicity. All of the urban furniture is also designed in accordance with this principle and made with natural materials like wood, stone, and black metal. The green areas and terraces include two green zones and strong geometric shapes.
Principal Park Agueda Gallardo Recovery

Principal Park Agueda Gallardo Recovery. Credit: Sergio Gomez

6. Bulevar del Río (River Boulevard), by Elly Burckhardt, Cali Located in the city’s historic downtown and atop Colombia’s longest urban tunnel is River Boulevard. The main idea was to give this place back to pedestrians and cyclists by eliminating dense traffic and pollution. Subsequently, just a small part of the public transportation system now drives on this zone at a very slow pace. In 2014, the Colombian Society of Architects named the boulevard as “Best Urban Design of the Country”.
River Boulevard

River Boulevard. Credit: Jorge Bela Kindelán

5. La Ronda del Sinú (Sinú Riverfront), by Parques Nueva Montería, Montería The construction of the longest linear park on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia transformed First Avenue and reconnected it to the Sinú River. Throughout its length there is a pedestrian walkway and a bike lane that twists around the gigantic shade trees, which help reduce the urban heat island effect and makes the experience more comfortable. One will also find an art museum (The MUZAC), a commercial zone, children’s playgrounds, and an outdoor theater.
Sinú Riverfront

Sinú Riverfront. Credit: Alejandro Rincón

4. Public Library Park and Cultural Center Julio Mario Santo Domingo, by Diana Wiesner Ceballos + Daniel Bermudez, Bogotá With a public space of 5.5-hectares (14-acres) this library offers an experience like no other. Aiming to be a low-impact construction, recycled materials were used but the most interesting work was done in the surrounding green spaces. The library is nestled in an immense green area where one can find playgrounds, wooded green space, and pedestrian walkways.
Public Library Park and Cultural Center

Public Library Park and Cultural Center Julio Mario Santo Domingo. Credit: Daniel Olarte

3. Orquideorama, by Plan B-Felipe Mesa, Alejandro Bernal + JPRCR-Camilo Restrepo, J. Paul Restrepo, Medellín Situated in the Botanic Garden of Medellín, Orquideorama is a perfect example of how architecture fuses with nature. Orquideorama is a floating meshwork of modular “flower-tree” structures. Each “flower-tree” is comprised of seven hexagons and fitted into each other, which helps control the expansion and allows for the option of continuous growth. The design is part of the environment and it links with the plants, creating a forest-like atmosphere.
Orquideorama

Orquideorama. Credit: Sergio Gomez

2. Santalaia Residential Building, by Exacta Proyecto Total + Paisajismo Urbano, Bogotá The Santalaia Residential Building is located east of Bogotá, in one of the most densely populated areas of the city. The project boasts one of the largest vertical gardens in the world covering 33,551 square-feet and is home to more than 115,000 plants of ten different species. The project goes beyond a mere aesthetic goal and creates an impact through ecological alternatives.
Santalaia Residential Building

Santalaia Residential Building. Credit: Daniel Segura Photography

1. Parque del Agua (Water Park), by Lorenzo Castro y Juan Santamaría + Alfonso Leiva y Michel Cescas, Bucaramanga Reopened to the public in 2003 after being closed for over a decade, Parque del Agua was revitalized to reintegrate its area into the urban fabric. The design is a strict orthogonal geometry with rustic finishes that work collectively with the lay of the land. Additionally, the furniture also follows this geometry while water delineates the pathways and shapes the character of the different spaces. The park has been given multiple international and national awards and the Colombian Society of Architects declared it one of the most significant works of Colombian architecture from the last 25 years.
Parque del Agua

Parque del Agua. Credit: rugB66’s via Flickr

Colombia is a multicultural country where we find many backgrounds, climates, and design styles. Whether it’s Santa Marta, Pamplona, or Medellín—each of the selected projects reflect the region’s context and current need. Recommended Reading:

Featured image: Chorro de Quevedo en La Candelaria |Bogotá, Colombia | Pedro Szekely | 2010

5 of the Smartest Drainage Systems

Article by Maria Giovanna Drago We have selected five of the most interesting drainage solutions to show you how their impact could be implemented in the landscape. Are you planning on designing a park or renovating your home garden? While you may already have knowledge of vegetation, outdoor furniture, paving, and lighting—a troubling issue that many are faced with is an excess of water. If it rains too much a garden or park could quickly become a swamp. Once the soil becomes saturated insects start to proliferate in the water, some of which are bearers of diseases. Additionally, overflow water can make moving through a space difficult as well as damage buildings or other structures. Avoid a Bad Design Do not rely on mediocre designed systems. A poor design decreases property value up to 15 percent, without mentioning the aesthetics and usability. It’s always wise to consult an expert and shy away from do-it-yourself methods.

Warsaw University Library

Warsaw University Library Garden located in Poland. Credit: Maria Giovanna Drago

In fact, it’s necessary to simulate the annual rainfall and snowfall of the referenced territory, considering the risk of storms, in coordination with an analysis of the soil absorption capacity. For example, soil that is predominantly made of clay does not allow water to drain as it should, so it can be mixed with sand or compost. It’s also important to consider the layers of a filtering substrate. Ultimately, you could determine the flow to be drained, the sizing and route of the drainage system, and the correct position of the tanks and inspection wells. Look for Alternatives You need the right guide to make sure a site is not only visually appealing, but also environmentally friendly and attentive to the waste of water and energy. As an additional suggestion, water can be collected in a tank and reused for irrigation purposes or for washing furnishings. This way what was first seen as a problem becomes a valuable resource. There are different types of drainage systems and we’re convinced that being a landscape architect does not mean installing pipes, but finding the proper solution that leads to a successful result. 1. Phytoremediation Herbal purification is an example that incorporates efficiency and practicality with a system of streams and small lakes. In this case, water is revealed and not hidden, since it’s used as a characteristic feature in the landscape. It’s conveyed from the various areas in an ornamental drainage stream for recreation or irrigation. The water flows slowly between plants, which act as a biological filter and together with the combined action of the gravel material, they purify it by simulating a natural process. For example, floating plants are ideal to assimilate heavy metals. Once cleansed, it can be reused to water cultivated areas or for toilet discharge.
Warsaw University Library

Warsaw University Library. Credit: Maria Giovanna Drago

2. A Decentralized, Integrated Green-Paving System The use of grid pavement or spaced dry laying is an interesting technique suitable for both pedestrian and vehicular paved areas. This method follows the natural cycle of rainwater based on diffusion. As a result, the manholes spaced out on waterproof surfaces disappear or diminish. A good landscape architect knows how to integrate greenery with flooring modules in a harmonious way so as not to reveal the drainage purpose, but focus on an attractive aesthetic.
Grass pavement

Grass pavement. Credit: Immanuel Giel via CC BY 2.0

3. A Draining, Concrete Paving You can opt for pervious concrete, which is commonly used in continuous surfaces such as parking areas. This also facilitates the widespread absorption of water and it’s characterized by a mixture of Portland cement, coarse aggregates, water, and additives. The very low or total absence of fine parts comprises its porous structure, which allows an easy flow of water and air. Unlike non-draining floors that absorb daytime heat, this drainage system contributes to a more favorable natural microclimate.
Pentagon Memorial

Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia by Kaseman Beckman Advanced Strategies and Buro Happold. Credit: Brien Aho via CC BY 2.0

4. Decorative and Minimal Grids If you prefer tradition or you really need to use the common grid, don’t forget there are grids available with geometric or floral patterns, usually made of cast iron, stainless steel, or polypropylene. Or you can specify a minimal style with a narrow linear grid for a more pleasing appearance. This approach is ideal if you want to give continuity to the surface, allowing a minimal visual impact. The channels will collect water and it will be directed to siphoned wells and collection tanks.
New Road

New Road located in the city of Brighton & Hove, UK designed by Landscape Projects and Gehl Architects. Credit: Gehl Architects

5. The French Method Have you ever heard of French drainage? This system first appeared in France in the 1800s. It’s made of a long-limbed path filled with gravel and a perforated underground pipe to redirect water. Interestingly, it functions like a traditional well, but looks more rural and natural. In fact, it can be placed seamlessly along avenues or defining flowerbeds. This is a perfect choice for safeguarding particularly sensitive areas. Do you know of more drainage systems? Share your knowledge to the community and leave a comment in the box below. Recommended Reading:

Featured image: Quzhou Luming Park | Quzhou, Zhejiang, China | Turenscape | 2016

What Lessons Can We Draw from One Spadina Crescent?

Article by Moreira Filho One Spadina Crescent by NADAAA with the leadership of Nader Tehrani and Katie Faulkner along with Adamson Associates, Public Work, and ERA Architects in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Located on Spadina Avenue and the north side of College Street in Toronto, this building was constructed in a roundabout that interrupts and divides the avenue. It’s impossible to pass through without seeing it, as it’s a monumental sculpture that seems to grow into the skies as you approach. Built in 1875 to house Knox College – incorporated by the University of Toronto (U of T) 12 years later – it used to harbor a theological seminary, military hospital, various departments of U of T, and a penicillin factory. Rendering this building, and giving it back to Torontonians and worldwide citizens, while linking the past to a present utilization was a big challenge for the design team. The firm chosen to develop this design was NADAAA, through the leadership of Nader Tehrani and Katie Faulkner in partnership with architect of record Adamson Associates, landscape architects Public Work, and heritage architects ERA Architects. Let’s look at some lessons we can take from them.

Site Plan

One Spadina Crescent Site Plan. Credit: Public Work

It’s a Building for the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Design The new use for the building is to house the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Design. One of the big steps was the addition of an attached structure surrounded by a useful square. The new building, coupled with the historical building acts as a bridge to the adjacent neighborhoods. While all of the sides received distinct entryways, this is the first time the building has a northerly face which opens it to the city and community, giving it a new identity.
Third floor

Third Floor Graduate Design Studio. Credit: Lori Whelan

The new building’s architectural design has a gothic feel to it and it also provides more natural lighting, thermo-acoustic control, and structural optimization through three cantilever trusses. Additionally, the trusses support the windows and 61 percent of the building is served by daylight. An architecture and design gallery is positioned along the northeastern edge of the site to accommodate the visual studies program and present professionally curated exhibits in design fields related to architecture, landscape architecture, urban, and visual design. The gallery also serves as a platform to advocate for the design professions and it includes a space for debate, developing ideas, and collaborating. It’s an Island of Landscape Architecture in the Middle of Downtown On the south side a raised, but separate platform was constructed to honor the original purpose of the site. Known as Belvedere, this gathering and event space maintains the view to the avenue and Ontario Lake, inviting people to enjoy the building. It also integrates the historical building and Spadina trams, opening the circulation up for pedestrians and serving as an entrance to large events in the Principal Hall.
View to the south

View to the South. Credit: Public Work

View to the north

View to the North. Credit: Public Work

view to the east

View to the East. Credit: Public Work

Furthermore, a passageway links the west and east sides providing access to Russell Street. Designers were quite insightful as they considered the natural calling of the site and named it “Street” because users can walk through the inside of the building. The west access is only a passage access where you can observe the junction of the buildings. Towards the east, on the opposite site, is a large plaza where academic life mixes with the community. Here visitors are greeted by a gifted oak tree, which is a symbol for U of T. Both plazas establish relationships with the “Street” due to the amenities found here. On this path, there are student lockers, a lounge, a café, offices, along with everything needed for university day-to-day life and the city. It was Built for Everyone The cross way has an intersection point inside the building in a rectangular hall where almost every big event, lecture, or class happens. It’s an auditorium courtyard that can be used with flexibility. Although this big hall offers a large scale sensation, it can be transformed and divided into smaller spaces according to the institutional schedule. Three levels of bleachers can be opened or split by glass walls. All levels can be reached by hallways and classrooms and integrate the work of students, classes, professors and activities. WATCH >>> Visit #OneSpadina during Doors Open Toronto 2017 Moreover, as they consider the whole building as an enormous sculpture, they needed to introduce a middle scale in the landscape around it. So, the designers created a series of pavilions to achieve this effect. The south side received a pavilion as the base for the entrance platform and green roofs, taking advantage of the sunlight. Also, a cistern was added that harvests storm water used to water the garden. Beside it, the design team created a park for 280 bicycles with walkways for pedestrian access. It’s the Union of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Design The building opened for a preview in May and will welcome students and faculty of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and visual studies this fall. One Spadina Crescent reflects the Toronto lifestyle. Its heritage has been preserved and its modern architecture has been seamlessly united. There are places to pass and places to sit, and it features several environmentally friendly elements such as a green roof and rain water harvesting, connecting the art of design and urban life. Full Project Credits One Spadina Crescent: Design Lead: NADAAA Architect of Record: Adamson Associates Landscape Architect: Public Work Heritage Architect: ERA Architects Civil Engineer: A.M Candaras Associates Structural Engineer: Entuitive Electrical Engineer: Mulvey & Banani Location: One Spadina Crescent, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Project Years: 2013-2017 Cost: $55 million USD Client: University of Toronto – John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Design Recommended Reading:

Featured image: One Spadina Crescent, seen from above | Toronto, Canada | Roof Topper | 2017

Garden Designers and Landscape Architects: Resolving the Identity Crisis

Article by Win Phyo We explore the key differences between a garden designer and a landscape architect.  When is a garden designer a landscape architect/designer? Are they rivals or are they on par? This article is mainly inspired by conversations I have had with those outside the profession, unfamiliar with the scope of work of a landscape architect. Landscape architects/designers often get confused with garden designers, however the questions that are being asked above are not the right ones. This is not a written piece on comparison of skill or qualifications, but meant to address the right questions and consider the importance of answering them. Behold, the following paragraphs will resolve this identity crisis by revisiting the root definitions and exploring the fundamental aspects, context, and history in how this confusion started.

What Defines a Garden?

One way of seeking definitions is by examining what makes up a “garden” and a “landscape”— what are the fundamental prerequisites and what does it mean to work within these contexts? How would you define a garden? Here are a couple of definitions from the web:

  1. An enclosed piece of ground devoted to the cultivation of flowers, fruit or vegetables (Oxford Dictionary)
  2. A piece of ground adjoining a house, used for growing flowers, fruit, or vegetables (Collins English Dictionary)
Hilgard Garden by Mary Barensfeld Architecture

Hilgard Garden in Berkeley, California. Credit: Mary Barensfeld Architecture

The common elements that frame both definitions are: a garden has boundaries and that involves the act of cultivation. “An enclosed piece of ground” suggests that a garden has distinct limits to space. The intervention is very apparent and without human intervention, gardens would ultimately revert back to landscape.

In a poetic way, for something to be considered a garden, there has to be a gardener and there is often the creation of an idealized other space, separated by its boundaries from the existing (or wider) landscape. Designing a garden can, most positively, often get away with this.

The Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden

The Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden in Chelsea, London. Credit: Nick Bailey

What Defines a Landscape?

Landscape has looser limits where boundaries are concerned and often there are no distinct limits at all. A landscape is essentially already there. Landscape design is clearly the design of the landscape, right?

In essence, landscape design involves the act of intervening (be it subtle or radical) and the qualities of the existing landscape are always the starting point of design.

There is one very simple definition of landscape, which I resort to use every single time:

anything that is not in a building.”

By this definition, a garden can be defined as a smaller proportion of the bigger landscape. However, garden design, in its own right, is not a branch of landscape design or vice versa. With this view, landscape design can be considered as an umbrella profession with coverage to a range of areas of expertise. Like in medicine or law, landscape architecture covers landscape planning, environmental impact assessment, landscape character analysis, strategic master planning, etc.

Central Park

Central Park is the most visited park in the United States. Credit: Rob Boudon via CC BY NC-SA 2.0

Consider the following points of how landscape design can vary from garden design.

  • Scale: Landscape design covers projects that are generally of a larger size
  • Context: Gardens are normally associated with a building but landscapes do not need to be
  • Boundaries: the boundaries of a landscape are often blurred in comparison to a garden with defined boundaries
  • Activity: There is an element of tending to gardens, which can apply to landscape in terms of management and maintenance, but is often a less important element.
  • Audience: Due to landscape design projects varying in scale and context, a designed landscape must accommodate a larger and varied mass of people. For example, projects range from parks, campuses, cemeteries, commercial centers, resorts, transportation facilities, waterfront developments, plazas, and other projects that help define a community.
High Line

The High Line is among the most Instagrammed places in the world. Credit: David Berkowitz via CC BY 2.0

The History of Gardening

Forest gardening is the oldest form of gardening from prehistoric times, which began as a method of securing food in tropical areas where useful edible plants were identified and grown in successive layers to create a woodland habitat over time. Then, enclosure of outdoor space began around 10,000 BC, mainly perhaps to keep the animals away.

Within established civilizations, wealthy people began creating aesthetic gardens. Egyptian tomb paintings suggest that they had lotus ponds and symmetrical arrangements of acacias and palms; Persia was also said to have paradise gardens. The wealthiest Romans also built extensive villa gardens and water features. Meanwhile, the 4th century AD saw the rise of Asian garden traditions such as Zen gardens. In Europe, the successive years gave rise to changes from Italian Renaissance gardens in the 16th century to romantic cottage-inspired to wild gardening in the 19th century and modernism in the 20th century.

Gardens of Versailles

Gardens of Versailles by André Le Nôtre exemplifying the French formal garden style, popular in Europe until the 18th century. Credit: Kimberly Vardeman via CC BY 2.0

The Landscapes of Today

Today, part of designing a landscape involves designing a lifestyle and tackling bigger issues that revolve around the concerns of modern life. In the 21st century, we are full with environmental consciousness and sustainable practices, for example green roofs and rainwater harvesting, which are becoming more widely practiced.

Waverley Gate Roof Garden

Waverley Gate Roof Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland. Credit: Jo Hanley

Concepts such as tactical urbanism and placemaking are also something landscape designers can get involved with to help shape local and city-wide neighborhoods and gardening spaces. Moreover, there are landscape designers that are now working with medical professionals to help reduce stress, boost immunity, and promote physical activity.

Today, a landscape may not even incorporate plants. It is surrounding where we live, it can perform different tasks or simply be there to provide rest, while enjoying its forms and shapes — although they have not originated from plant material.

PARK(ing) Day 2016 in Munich, Germany

PARK(ing) Day 2016 at Sendlinger Straße in Munich. Credit: Michaila Kühnemann

What’s the Big Deal?

Overall, from the explorations above, the area of overlap between garden and landscape design is not as large as you might first think. Historical advancements show the evolvement of what was in the past considered garden design, which has evolved from human intervention with the landscape for production and with wealth into aesthetic purposes. Times have changed to develop these practices into a wholesome perception of landscape design that now starts to understand systems and biological components on a larger scale.

So, a few questions remain. Does landscape design provide a training — or a state of mind — for a more widely applicable skill set? If so, how can the profession market itself to be taken more seriously and more widely? Perhaps I should leave it to the rest of you to figure this one out.

Recommended Reading: 

Featured image: Gravetye Manor Gardens by William Robinson | West Sussex, England | Gravetye Manor | 2014

Two Famous American Urban Parks Demonstrate How Citizens Changed in 160 Years

Article by Maria Giovanna Drago We examine how urban parks in the United States have evolved over the last 160 years through a comparison of New York City’s Central Park and Chicago’s Millennium Park. Society has continually changed throughout history, often in reaction to events and novelties. Important time periods, such as industrial revolutions and wars have influenced the way of life and because of these events some people favored living in fast-paced cities while others in the countryside. These progressions can be seen in the layout of cities, particularly the urban parks. Parks allow us to better understand the struggle between nature and the built environment. Even though it seems that more attention is usually given to the expansion of cities, over the centuries urban green infrastructure has not remained static.

Central Park West Historic District, seen from Bow Bridge over the Lake in Central Park. Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0

Urban parks have roots as far back as the ancient Persians who used to hunt and breed fish in their private parks, while Greeks famously walked in public gardens and taught philosophy. Parks from past centuries still exist in many western cities, new parks didn’t substitute old parks, and both are successful in unique ways. Dating back to the 19th century, Central Park in New York City is one of the most famous and visited parks in the world. Furthermore, some modern parks are more harmonious with today’s society and show just how much life has changed. This is especially evident when looking at Millennium Park in Chicago, as a comparison to Central Park, which is 147 years older. Dimensions The size of an area demonstrates whether it’s accessible on foot and influences the type of usability. A space can be more usable if it can be walked and visited within an acceptable time, as a result it may include functions not adopted by bigger parks. Millennium Park and Central Park are two examples of large parks as they have an area of 24.5 acres (99,000 square meters) and 843 acres (3.41 square kilometers) respectively.

Aerial view of Millennium Park. Credit: Ashley Diener

Millennium Park can be walked diagonally from one extremity to the other in about 8 minutes, so citizens and tourists can explore it in less than a couple of hours, which reflects its modern style. Central Park is much larger and it isn’t possible to visit the entire park in a single day on foot. Additionally, it has a more naturalistic landscape and it’s evident as it was planned for a specific use and following a different philosophy. Reasons and Roots Central Park borrows inspiration from the great European parks such as Hyde Park in London and Bois de Boulogne in Paris, where the nobles and the sovereigns used to hunt, attend elite events, and enjoy carriage rides. This park is like a portion of nature embedded into the city with freely arranged trees, shrubs, and wide meadows. Central Park was dedicated in 1857, at a time when the Industrial Revolution had transformed the city. Citizens desired a green space resembling the countryside to relax and breathe fresh air, back then it was even allowed to graze sheep in the park. At the beginning of the 1900s, play fields were added, as well as swimming pools and other amenities.

Lower end of mall at Central Park in 1901. Credit: CC BY 2.0

Millennium Park, dedicated in 2004, was the result of a design for the future of Chicago strongly pursued by then mayor, Richard M. Daley. It’s a tribute to contemporary engineering and architecture. The pavilion was designed by Pritzker Prize winner Frank Gehry. What to Do There are plenty of choices among the main attractions in Millennium Park. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion occupies almost the entire east side with its 4,000 fixed seats and vast lawn, which can accommodate 7,000 people. There is also the Gallery and Wrigley Plaza to the north of the west side, together with the Millennium Monument, which is reminiscent of a Greek portico. In the middle of the central square is Cloud Gate, a sculpture comprised of 110 tons of steel and nicknamed “The Bean” by British artist Anish Kapoor. Finally, another Gallery and Crown Fountain by artist Jaume Plensa are to the south, which promotes physical interaction between the public and the water through its two giant towers.

Crown Fountain. Credit: Serge Melki via CC

Pritzker Pavilion Great Lawn. Credit: Bob Segal

In contrast, Central Park is a paradise for runners and those who enjoy outdoor activities. Golfers can play in big, green meadows and climbers can climb up emerging slate rocks. It’s also possible to play baseball in reserved spaces, skate on ice rinks, or simply wander through the paths and picnic while admiring the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Treasures Both parks are flagships to their respective cities. They undoubtedly contribute to the local architectural heritage, one for 160 years and the other for 13 years. Additionally, both parks improve the quality of life for residents and offer valued tourist destinations. Central Park was visited by 60 million people in 2016 and Millennium Park by 25 million. Moreover, both have increased the economic value of the area, especially the adjacent properties.

Heckscher Playground in Central Park. Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0

This is not a comparison between ancient and modern. There are plenty of parks with such peculiarities that an encyclopedia wouldn’t be sufficient. It’s rather a comparison of two parks that represent their historical context and an invitation for you to observe and understand the landscapes you visit. If you’re curious about other parks, explore the Australian Garden in Cranbourne, Australia and The Grand Ensemble Park in Alfortville, France. How will the urban park of the future look? Recommended Reading: 

Featured image: Central Park from Rockefeller Center | New York, New York | Andrew Mace | 2015

10 Reasons to Go on a Landscape Architecture Exchange

Article by Emily Sinclair Discover why landscape architecture students should embark on a foreign exchange.  There are many clear advantages to participating in an exchange program during your time in university. From learning a new language to experiencing a new culture, becoming a foreign exchange student can change your perspective on the world around you. As landscape architecture students, we all deal with the design of spaces and the surrounding environments in our projects. While we can study theory, and delve into case studies of monumental landscape works, there is no alternative to visiting the space in person. Traveling is always an option, but there are benefits to spending a semester abroad as a landscape architecture student. 10. Exposure to Projects As mentioned above, while studying a space can be useful to your studies and forming your personal design style, nothing quite takes the place of visiting a project in person. Landscape architecture is found worldwide and each country takes its own approach to the field. By traveling to new countries, you are not only opening your mind to new experiences, but also new philosophies and values. By exploring projects with your feet, eyes, and sketchbook rather than your textbook, you can draw your own conclusions and discover something you didn’t expect to find.

Kyrkogårdsförvaltningen, Malmö, Sweden. Credit: Emily Sinclair

9. Living, Not Visiting By living in a city, rather than just visiting, you are exposing yourself to the daily activities that you might miss if you only visited for a few days and targeted the main sites. You are privy to the local color, small pocket parks, school playgrounds, bike paths and the countryside, which might not be apparent if you are checking items off a to-do list. You could also make friends with local people and take time to sit on a boardwalk or go to the beach. All of which are enhanced by actually living in a city and being immersed in the network of life that you just won’t experience through case studies and books. Being in a city for a long period of time also exposes you to seasonal changes as well as different weather situations, which may dramatically change a space. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to meet more residents, which will allow you to be aware of the local opinion and is often different than the award descriptions and media coverage.

Ribersborgsstranden in the Winter, Malmö, Sweden. Credit: Emily Sinclair

8. Experience a New Culture The most obvious reason to go on an exchange! One of the biggest differences for me was not only the different foods and customs, but also the values. In landscape architecture, there are many things that are valued such as healthy lifestyles and abundant green space, but the priorities change from city to city. In some cities, traffic concerns are treated with more importance than green networks. However, in other cities, the knowledge of plants and planting design is given more weight in schools. The distinct values become more apparent as you open yourself up to more of the designed environments, which you use daily.

A Swedish ‘Champagne’ Breakfast. Credit: Emily Sinclair

7. Experience a Different University Culture This point is not just about the different clubs, being engaged in a different university system can be a unique experience from what you expected. For example, in my home university in Canada we often take several courses in parallel to each other, partaking in one to three lecture courses, while simultaneously taking a studio. In Sweden, where I traveled for my exchange, the standard was to take only one course at a time but spend 20-40 hours per week on that course. 6. Make New Friends As a landscape architecture student, you are already primed to find people of similar interests. As you meet other exchange students you will also be disclosed to like-minded students from your host country. As a landscape architecture student participating in a landscape architecture exchange program, I found it extremely satisfying to learn that my knowledge of the Latin plant names was adequate enough to have conversations about plants in relation to landscape architecture and design. Being from a particularly small faculty it was also refreshing to learn new terms for materials or theories that I had previously never had to consider. Additionally, it was fascinating to be challenged as we navigated language barriers, trying to categorize and name things that I might have previously taken for granted. I found many people who shared similar goals and values to myself and will remain connected to them through the years. 5. Make Connections In that same line of thought, going on exchange introduces you to new professional connections. Through the university you’ll be revealed to professors and researchers and you’ll have the chance to meet professionals and up-and-coming practitioners through your classmates. These connections may illustrate a line of work or an internship you had not previously considered. Universities and other establishments often have seminars or symposiums, which are also great opportunities to learn about new theories and research. 4. Looks Great on a Resume This is more of a general point, but it’s true. By including your exchange on your resume, you are telling your potential employer that you are responsible and adaptable. They can also assume that your time abroad gave you a more international perspective in the field, which could prove useful in a working environment. In addition to these points, most people will recognize that the undertaking of an exchange program, even simply the process of applying, organizing your documents, transcripts, visas, and finding yourself in a new city can be a complex challenge. This demonstrates that you are an excellent problem solver. 3. Travel As a foreign exchange student, you aren’t just experiencing a new city, it’s a new country and, sometimes, a new continent. As a student from North America, the ability to travel to disparate European countries while on exchange in Sweden was life changing. I took my time there as an opportunity to not only explore Sweden to its fullest, but also the neighboring countries. Sometimes it was a day trip by train, or a long weekend to another country. Being in a different continent made the urgency to see it all so much more of an achievable task.

Bern, Switzerland. Credit: Emily Sinclair

2. Challenge Yourself Being abroad brings you new scholastic and worldly opportunities to test your knowledge and skills. You will be able to take the things you have learned up until this point and relate them to varying problems and contexts. You will find that the things that are at the forefront of your teachers’ and peers’ minds usually are not the same in a different school. This gives you the chance to explore unique ways to integrate these into your projects. You are also tested in your ability to observe and document the space around you. One of the greatest tools a landscape architect or landscape architecture student can carry with themselves is a sketchbook so make sure to stock up and keep record of your trip, you will not regret it.

Always Bring a Sketchbook. Credit: Emily Sinclair

1. There’s No Better Time Than Now After you graduate, these opportunities are less likely to present themselves. Once you finish school you will have significantly less flexibility to run off and live in another country for months ‘just for the experience’. Most schools have systems in place to make the transition easy, from connections with previous participants to transferring credits, your department’s advisors are likely to have the answer. So, do not let the challenge daunt you, talk to your faculty today about exchange opportunities available to you! Recommended Reading:

Featured image: Slottstradgarden | Malmö, Sweden | Emily Sinclair | 2017

How Jardin des Rives Brings People to Nature and Nature to Man

Article by Radenka Kolarov Jardin des Rives by Studio Basta in Amiens, France.

Les Hortillonnages d’Amiens is an area that stretches alongside the Somme River. Since Roman times, the land has been hard and unusable so food was cultivated on small islands in the water. In modern times, the food crops were largely lost, leaving many islands unused and without a purpose. The MCA wanted to change this and with the help of Studio Basta organized a festival for art and gardening in this area. Inspired by the ancient Roman islands, still found on the water, Studio Basta built two wooden terraces that include benches combined with native plants arranged in a perfect order of color and composition.

History As an Inspiration? There are projects all around the world that have used the history of a local area for inspiration. Jardin des Rives is a small project, yet its design relies on a distant history, one that dates back to Ancient Roman times. Romans had a specific way of plant cropping and created well-known vegetable gardens on islands. Nowadays, these islands are abandoned and largely forgotten. Studio Basta’s main idea for this project was to re-innovate these islands and use them as the driving force behind the design. So, what have they done?

Kayakers at Jardin des Rives. Credit: Studio Basta

Whether you feel tired and just want sit, or perhaps lay and enjoy the surrounding environment while listening to the sound of water and birds, they designed a garden that could be used many ways. The terraces also serve as benches and are made of light wood with an appealing, soft look. They fit in harmony with the adjacent older trees and the newly planted shrubs. The client’s wish was to reactivate the site by the Somme River intended for a festival for garden and arts. Studio Basta’s design was the perfect answer and brings people to the water and the water to the people. Water is the Key Hired as builders of the Jardin d’Érode, the Studio Basta collective discovered the Amiens Hortillonnages during the 2011 festival. The landscape designers were moved by the beauty of this place and decided to return for a second time in 2012. This time as designers of an installation with the desire to bring the visitors closer to the water. In fact, they noticed the preceding year that even working in a setting surrounded by water, and practically in the water, they still had little contact with the aquatic world, despite their proximity.

Jardin des Rives Wooden Terrace. Credit: Studio Basta

The focus of their design is, therefore, on the edges of the island, as close as possible to the bank. The banks of the islets are relatively high with respect to the water surface, which made it difficult to encounter the water. So, the wooden terraces were a solution to this challenge. A succession of gently sloping, flat surfaces act as a gradual transition between the land and the water. Also, in contrast, the middle of the islet is a dense mass of plantings with various plants commonly found in Picardy landscapes. Quality of the Environment The most essential aspect of this design was to improve the natural environment with little impact to the land. In the middle of the islet is a mass of Rosemary leaf willows. These plants are comparatively slow-growing and reach heights of 50 to 100 centimeters and widths of 1.5 to 2 meters. They are deciduous with leaves that turn into an attractive yellow color in autumn. The grey color of their foliage during summer months, shaded with blue and green, appears to mirror the sky of northern France and its “rambleur”, a greyish light characteristic of Picardy landscapes. The whole effect gives the islet a soft complexion, which blends into the neighboring landscape. Studio Basta once again proved they are a high-quality landscape architecture team. With a very simple, sophisticated, and clever choice of landscape elements, they handled the given task and created an exciting ambiance. If you haven’t seen the floating gardens of Amiens, here is your chance! What do you think about this project, would you visit it? Let us know in the comment section below! Full Project Credits Jardin des Rives: Landscape Architect: Studio Basta Location: Amiens, France Project Year: Spring 2012 Client: MCA Budget: 10.000 Euro Photos: Studio Basta  Recommended Reading:

Featured image: Jardin des Rives | Amiens, France | Studio Basta | 2012

Designing a Barcode Patterned Square: Täby Torg Square by Polyform Architects

Article by Gwgw Kalligiannaki Täby Torg Square by Polyform Architects in Täby, Sweden. In the 1960s, the City of Täby joined the Swedish “Million Programme” to help solve the housing problems in the city. The project’s goal was to build one million apartments in a short period of time and to provide a roof for all. Although the speedy rebuild was very successful, the town’s appearance was monotonous and lacked public space. Therefore, in the early 2000s, the Municipality of Täby decided it was time to resolve the issue and transform the public, urban life of their citizens. To do this, they selected the parking lot of the city’s main shopping center and converted it into a space to host public events and activities. Danish firm Polyform Architects was commissioned for the design of the New Centre and brought a sense of character to the city. Their design for a multi-functional square was cleverly organized into six themed squares, each with its own identity, and each providing different opportunities in public life.

Täby Torg Square Barcode. Credit: Wichmann + Bendtsen, Ake Lindmann

Organizing a Barcode Master Plan Polyform Architects chose to divide the project into a row of six smaller squares to create a patterned, human-scaled urban experience. The idea of a barcode form is supported from the direct layout of the site. Each square has its own identity, but they are all bound together. Although, the design is strictly based on linear elements, the playground area is a more unregulated configuration. Also, the entire site has a strong bond with light, using over 500 lighting elements, ultimately shaping different experiences during the entire year and especially on the dark, winter Sweden days. The Multi-Squared Pattern                    Faced with creating a multi-functional open space in a 10,000-square meter old car park, the architects elected to divide the site into six zones, each with its own role, providing space for all the public activities that occur in a modern square. The seating square was made to relax and enjoy, while the market square created a set for farmer’s markets and flea markets. Meanwhile, the stage space gives the square the opportunity to host theater and concerts and the light space consists of rows of lights with accent lights. Finally, the orange playground was created for children to play and have fun and the water square has 120 water jets that work in harmony and is the biggest water fountain in Sweden.

Täby Torg Square Playground. Credit: Wichmann + Bendtsen, Ake Lindmann

Täby Torg Square Water Fountain. Credit: Wichmann + Bendtsen, Ake Lindmann

Material Palette and Urban Equipment  Highlighting the barcode pattern, each small square is paved with different types of material such as natural stone, poured rubber, concrete, and cast iron. The way the materials were addressed shows a disposition to emphasize each square’s character and role both graphically and programmatically. Oversized L-shaped lighting poles were placed in a row along the square and serve a double role as urban furniture. Small pavilions made of black steel are positioned along the perimeter and are used as cafes or shops. Two rows of trees are planted on the sides of the square and are the only plantings. In addition, all furniture that has been used follows the simple outlines and the strict geometry of the project. Lighting Strategy                                   When designing for places where there are long, dark winter nights, lighting has a significant role in the attractiveness of a landscape project. The lighting plan in an open, public space should provide users the sense of security and emphasize the beauty of the site. This concept was reinforced in this project by Polyform. The uniqueness of each square is further defined by a different lighting design. Lighting poles and flooring spots are organized into six different zones, following the functional and morphologic features of each area. Additionally, the lighting elements form a total composition, making the square look like a big frame, where different scenarios can be hosted, every hour of the day, throughout the year.

Täby Torg Square Lighting. Credit: Wichmann + Bendtsen, Ake Lindmann

Täby Torg Square Lighting. Credit: Wichmann + Bendtsen, Ake Lindmann

Polyform Architects managed to create a new identity for the heart of Täby on the site of a once anonymous car park. Täby Torg Square is a project with minimal design, but boasts many opportunities. The linear design of the square with its clean lines gives the user the ability to focus on the function of each zone and underlines the flexible and dynamic character of the square. According to the architects, “It would be more accurate to call it a poli-square because the urban space actually contains six squares: the seating square, where people can sit and relax; the market square, for organizing markets; the stage square, for concerts and theatrical performances; the orange playground, for children; and finally the light space and the water square, which through the use of light and water complete the whole atmosphere of the place.”

Täby Torg Square Pavilion. Credit: Wichmann + Bendtsen, Ake Lindmann

What is your method in organizing a multi-functional urban space? Full Project Credits Täby Torg Square: Architects: Polyform Design Team:  Jonas Sangberg, Thomas Kock, Jette Kristensen, Christoffer Lissau Lund, Ola Nielsen, Lotte Fjendbo Møller, Signe Hertzum, Nikolaj Frølund Thomsen og Lars W. Maarbjerg Consultants: Grontmij Malmø, ÅF Lighting, Sydark Konstruera, Tyréns, Anleka, KÅWE Konstruktioner HB og PK3 Location: 183 70 Täby, Sweden Area: 10000.0 sqm Project Year: 2015 Client: Täby Kommun Photos: Wichmann + Bendtsen, Ake Lindmann Construction Cost including VAT: 45 Million DKK Recommended Reading:

Featured image: Täby Torg Square | Täby, Sweden | Wichmann + Bendtsen, Åke Lindmann | 2015

What Roles Can Landscape Architecture Play for Physically Challenged People?

Article by Farah Afza Jurekh In this article we look at the fundamentals of universal design. Universal accessibility is widely considered by landscape architects. However, beyond functional elements such as crosswalks with sound cues, there are very few landscapes that are designed to engage the senses and provide benefits to the visually impaired. Landscape design principles offer an array of opportunities to the people who are visually impaired and physically challenged to ensure their ease in movement and comfort. Visually Impaired People When visually impaired people negotiate with the outside world, their hands and feet become their eyes. They use their feet to acquire surface information and fingers to recognize texture, form, and location. Additionally, the blind rely on other sensory organs to compensate for their lack of sight and their ability to hear, smell, taste, touch, and feel is more subtle than people with sight. By manipulating certain aspects of the landscape, a person who is visually impaired or physically challenged could have an enhanced perception of the surrounding environment. Sites that accentuate non-visual experiences can foster feelings of security, both physical and psychological, by creating alternative prompts and allowing them to navigate and identify spaces that may not be familiar. Importance of Tactile Surfaces Especially for Physically Challenged People Texture Texture, for this purpose, refers to ground surfaces, which can be used to denote footpaths for visually impaired people through their sense of touch. They are detected either underfoot or via a walking cane. Furthermore, changes in ground surface can be used to indicate an approaching hazardous area, such as a road or signal crossing, and show the correct direction to proceed.

ADA compliant color contrast detectable warning installation on a high traffic area in New York City. Credit: CC BY 3.0

Curb Ramps (Especially for Wheelchair Users) The slope, or the gradient of a ramp, should be designed to local guidelines. This is essential for wheelchair users where there are level changes between streets and sidewalks. In some countries, these curbs are equipped with audio systems that emit a warning sound when they are crossing roads. Varying Textures Can be a Key Design Tool Tactile paving surfaces can also be used to convey critical information about the location of amenities such as stairs, telephone booths, benches, etc. In this case, changing texture is used to stimulate their attention.

Low profile directional tactile markings are installed on busy pedestrian crossings in Japan. Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0

Living Textures Living textures are another way to enhance the experience for the visually impaired. Living textures refer to the feel of plants and trees. Apart from the feel, the fragrance can also be of assistance. Shrubs The chirping of birds can help the visually impaired identify places. With the use of more shrubs, more birds may be invited to flock around. A few recommended species include arrowwood, winterberry holly, and common snowberry.  Scented Plants Although these are only a few common examples, the choice of trees and plant species vary by region. Species should be selected based on their hardiness to the region’s climatic conditions. Examples include cherry plum, maple, tulip apricot beauty, and Arum maackia. Smell and sound also help visually impaired people. In addition to the aesthetic enrichment these plants provide, fragrant plants and the sound produced from the movement of trees and shrubs may aid the visually impaired, providing them with a reference to make judgments about their surroundings.

The future approach to Brickell Station along Miami’s Underline. Credit: James Corner Field Operations, courtesy Friends of the Underline

Special Texture Can be Used as a Landmark or Tactile Cue Vertical elements like walls with rough surfaces and other landscape elements such as statues and landmarks may convey information to the visually impaired through touch. Splashing Water Amidst Noisy Distractions Can Help Them Identify Places Another feature that can be used to trigger one’s sensory perception is water. Landscape architects love incorporating water into their designs. It not only provides a cooling effect, but can also create a vibrant ambience. Similarly, the use of fountains and the sound of splashing water can support the visually impaired to recognize places through listening. The Use of Legible Signage and Interactive Artwork Signs and signage are important components in urban design. The legibility of signs and signage and interactive artwork can provide the physically impaired with tactile surfaces, which can be perceived by touch. Next time you’re tasked with a universal design project, consider implementing different textured pavements, fragrant trees and plants, street furniture, and splashing water. These are just a few examples that landscape architects can employ to allow the visually impaired and physically challenged to move independently at ease. Do you think these ideas help? Please share your thoughts on how landscape architects can improve universal design. Featured image: Malecón Walk | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | West 8 | 2011

Why Do Some Graduate Landscape Architects Have a Poor Understanding of Planting?

Article by Kamil Rawski In this article we examine what knowledge young professionals lack about planting that every landscape architect should know. In the pursuit of a landscape architecture degree, students have the opportunity to acquire a wealth of knowledge on planting, but as with other subjects there are some students who take this issue more seriously than others. Very often creating planting plans is reduced to composing different spatial forms due to size, shape, or aesthetic qualities of vegetation. In theory, designers are always able to make a space more attractive to the user by applying appropriate plantings, mainly because most people enjoy colorful combinations of blooming flowers. However, ornamental plantings aren’t the only situation where plants can be used. Treating vegetation as a vital element of the landscape can make the space more desirable by framing individual spaces with plants or by creating a specific rhythm of greenery, which could direct the viewer’s eye to the desired place. However, unlike hardscape elements, plants cannot be chosen simply because they “look good” or “match” the site. Rather, a variety of elements must be considered including planting zone, water needs, light requirements, and soil acidity, to name a few. It is important to keep in mind that what appears great on paper, unfortunately, doesn’t always work in the real world, so care must be taken to choose the appropriate plantings for each site.

Playa Vista Central Park in California by Michael Maltzan Architecture + Office of James Burnett. Credit: Michael Maltzan Architecture

Planning the Future Garden Time will always tell if we have selected the proper plants. This is where I would like to highlight the words plant selection because the rest of the article will be dedicated to this issue. Planting projects should be planned in such a way that the final product looks as if the designer envisioned it even many years after completion. Many graduate landscape architects also forget that plants vary in form and growth rate, so the planned effect is not always visible right away. Designing too many plants per square meter is often the result of a lack of such knowledge. Additionally, young professionals often underestimate horticultural knowledge, but plant specification is a very important skill. Apart from the fact that plants are supposed to look as the designer planned, they should also fulfill a number of environmental and natural conditions. The following elements are analyzed below.

A planting scheme of perennials and grasses by Missouri-based garden designer Adam Woodruff. Credit: Adam Woodruff

Climatic Conditions All plants are sensitive to varying temperatures, so selecting plants that work in the specific hardiness zones should always be taken into account. These zones were developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and they are geographically defined areas where a specific category of plants are suitable to grow and function normally. Mostly, it is related to the ability to resist the minimum temperatures in individual zones, so in some countries it is also known as frost-resistant zones. If the plant is hardy to a specific zone it means that it’s able to resist the lowest temperature assigned to this zone. While planning plant selections there are also a variety of elements due to climate that must be considered including temperature pattern, annual rainfall, snow cover, direction of dominating winds, and length of vegetation period, to name a few.

The Minton located in Singapore by DP Architects. Credit: Marc Tey Photography

Soil Conditions I don’t think it’s necessary to reiterate how important the substrate is in the case of plant selection. Knowledge about which species of plants need acid, alkaline, or neutral soil is very useful. With this information, the right substrate can be prepared. Along these lines, knowing which plants to group together is also important, as is moisture content. Some plants need drier substrate than others and by grouping plants by their soil and moisture needs one can help to ensure longevity. Finally, soil permeability and fertility is another consideration that is worth mentioning. Of course, it all comes down to the plants’ overall environmental requirements. Location The location is partially related to the previously discussed topics. However, there are also aspects that are worth further investigation. Factors such as site topography and how much space can be planted must be considered. A good practice is to perform shade, insolation, and wind shelter analysis of the site for each location. Also, it is important to keep in mind that every plant needs a different environment to thrive.

Tanner Springs Park in Portland, Oregon by Atelier Dreiseitl and GreenWorks PC. Credit: Debbie Lusk

Furthermore, only some plants are pollution-tolerant so it’s important to select proper plants for urban or industrial areas. In addition, soil reclamation will be needed, in some cases, before planting the chosen vegetation for heavily neglected sites. Some of the most useful information that is strongly underestimated by graduate landscape architects is knowledge of phytosociology—the science relating to plant communities. Using native species to design is, in my opinion, the best practice for plant selection. The use of plants that would have taken part in an ecological succession will give us a higher probability that the plants will flourish. So, ask yourself…what plants would have settled in the site if it was left untouched? However, what can’t be forgotten is that some native species are invasive and it’s strictly recommended to avoid them. Physical Aspects There are many attributes that are responsible for the visual effect. After rejecting plants that do not meet the requirements of the given habitat, if one is wanting to increase the project value then plants should be chosen for such features as:

  • plant form (spreading, columnar, dense, conical, spherical, etc.)
  • color (ornamental flowers, leaves, fruits)
  • size (tall, medium, low trees/shrubs)
  • speed of growth (quick-growing, slow-growing)
  • structure of plants (deciduous, coniferous)
  • discoloration of leaves in autumn or evergreen species

Public plaza of the Galaxy SoHo designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and EcoLand Design Group in Beijing. Credit: Hai Zhang

It’s critical to keep in mind that the appropriate plant spacing will have a huge impact on the final result, therefore it’s key to consider the size of the adult plant. Ultimately, schools should put more emphasis on learning horticultural knowledge as well as basic issues about plant physiology. Understanding these aspects will allow future landscape architects to better plan plantings and become more well-rounded in their chosen occupation. The most important thing is to explore the area and select and segregate the plants according to their habitat requirements. Of course, a separate aspect is the subsequent care of plants, but that is a topic for another article. Do you agree that horticultural knowledge is very important in the landscape architectural profession? Let us know what you think and leave a comment. Recommended Reading:

Featured image: Jiang Wan Cheng Phase 1 | Nanjing, China | Cicada | 2016

Latest News Landscape Architecture July Edition

10-July-2017 – Latest News Landscape Architecture July by Brett Lezon | Edition No. 2 out of 5 In this week’s Latest News in Landscape Architecture we highlight National Park and Recreation Month in the United States, feature a proposed astronomy park in Hanoi, and examine the world’s most biodiverse city. Additionally, we showcase a book about retrofitting the built environment with green infrastructure, and don’t forget our YouTube Tutorial of the Week! This week we share a resource on quirky technological advances for designers. 10 of the Best Stories in this week’s latest news in landscape architecture:

  • 5 Super Cool Gadgets for Architects & Designers #3 (2017) Next Punch [YouTube Tutorial of the Week]
  • Which is the World’s Most Biodiverse City?
  • Moscow will Bring Back Gardens to the Center in 2017
  • Regreening the Built Environment: Nature, Green Space, and Sustainability [Book Review of the Week]
  • Why Do We See More Species in Tropical Forests? The Mystery May Finally Be Solved
  • Urban Greenery to Get a Major Push in Mysuru
  • July Highlights the Value of Local Parks, Recreation in Communities Nationwide
  • First Outdoor Astronomy Park in Southeast Asia to Be Built in Hanoi
  • Why We Should Be Graphically Designing Our City
  • Details of Major New ‘Urban Extension’ of Newton Abbot Revealed – Including 1,275 Homes

Latest News Landscape Architecture July Edition 02

  • 5 Super Cool Gadgets for Architects & Designers #3 (2017) Next Punch [YouTube Tutorial of the Week]

WATCH >>> 5 Super Cool Gadgets for Architects & Designers #3 (2017) Next Punch Throughout, this 13-minute tutorial, the presenter reviews five neat gadgets for the savviest of designers. From reMarkable, a paper tablet that replaces your sketchbooks and notebooks to Hovr, a tool that reinvents sitting—these gadgets can save time and energy. Related Article: 8 Apps for Landscape Architects and Designers

As urbanization continues, ecosystems in many cities are grasping for survival. Since 2011, 318 types of plants, 22 types of birds, and 24 types of animals are in danger of extinction. However, São Paulo, Mexico City, Singapore, Iquitos, and many other biodiverse urban areas have made commitments to protect and preserve their natural systems. Researchers have always been interested in determining the world’s most biodiverse city, but it’s not a simple feat. For instance, some cities lack the data necessary and have varying areas within their administrative limits. Still, according to Thomas Elmqvist, editor of Urbanization, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and leader of the United Nation’s City and Biodiversity Outlook Project, in raw numbers Cape Town could take the top spot. For now, we know biodiversity is under threat as human population has increased by more than 30 percent since 2011. Related Article: 5 Best Ways to Increase Biodiversity in Urban Landscapes WATCH >>> Ibirapuera Park | São Paulo, Brazil

The once extensive, green boulevard known as the Garden Ring located in central Moscow is returning to its former appearance. “The idea of tree planting and returning gardens to the Garden Ring is one of the key points of the reconstruction,” said the Strelka Design Bureau, which is responsible for the transformation. Hired for the project were sixteen well-known Russian and international firms including Latz + PartnerVilles & Paysages, and Snøhetta. Seventy-five percent of the Garden Ring is set to be completed this year. Related Article: Moscow Festival of Gardens and Flowers

“Regreening the Built Environment by Michael A Richards examines the relationship between the built environment and nature and demonstrates how rethinking the role and design of infrastructure can environmentally, economically, and socially sustain the earth. The case studies will demonstrate how existing “gray” infrastructure can be retrofitted with green infrastructure and low impact development techniques. It is quite plausible that a building can be designed that actually creates greenspace or generates energy; likewise, a roadway can be a park, an alley can be a wildlife corridor, and a parking surface can be a garden.” Related Article: 10 Projects That Put Sustainability at the Forefront of Landscape Architecture

A mystery, which dates back to 1835, may have been unraveled thanks in large part to a new study published in the journal Science. In the 1970s, Daniel Janzen and Joseph Connell hypothesized that the high plant diversity found in the tropics is due to the “presence of natural enemies that target specific species and keep population size in check and the tendency of youngsters of one species to settle far away from their parents.” That hypothesis was validated by forest ecologists Jonathan Myers and Joe LaManna after rigorously analyzing a dataset of 2.4 million trees from 3,000 species. They discovered in areas with higher numbers of adult trees, there were fewer young saplings of the same species. “It’s changed the way I think about ecology,” Myers says. “The enemy can actually have a beneficial effect in maintaining the rare species in these communities, especially in the tropics.”  Related Article: How a Holistic Approach to Landscape Architecture Prevents Rainforest Damage WATCH >>> A simple idea More Top Stories in the News This Week

For all of the hottest news continue to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Have news to share? Send to balezonasla@gmail.com  News report by Brett Lezon

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