The freeway for the electric and hybrid car need not be the highway we are used to.There is no reason why it might not be encased in landscape when the view out is less than appealing: concrete noise barriers or the back of suburban areas or some of the more hostile industrial areas of our large cities.There is no reason why the drive to work need be monotonous…and why the landscape views might not be considered in the same way as a promenade through a garden. We should take advantage of what nature provides and the cultural landscapes we have created.
Author Archives: Christine
Space and place
Famous Danish Urbanist Jan Gehl after a nine month study of central Sydney in 2007 called for the addition of three new public squares along George Street:
“His report paints a picture of a city at war with itself – car against pedestrian, high-rise against public space. “The inevitable result is public space with an absence of public life,” he concludes.
His nine-month investigation found a city in distress. A walk down Market Street involved as much waiting at traffic lights as it did walking. In winter, 39 per cent of people in the city spend their lunchtimes underground, put off by a hostile environment at street level: noise, traffic, wind, a lack of sunlight and too few options for eating.”
If the City of Sydney was to implement his vision how would the addition of public space improve the perception of place in Sydney?
The City of Miami is also feeling the lack of a public centre. In considering the attributes of good public squares they describe a few of the most successful spaces in the US, including Union Square and Madison Square.
Feel free to nominate your favourite public square and tell us why it is so good!
Concepts of sacredness and beauty
It is likely that the history of Japanese gardens finds its origins in Shinto traditions. In particular the sacred nature of rocks: “from the ancient remains of rock arrangement” of the fifth century AD, we find a resemblance to existing Japanese gardens. “However it appears they were used for the spiritual rituals and not designed as a stone arrangement for the beauty of gardens.”
The earliest known Japanese gardening texts are a medieval text, Sakuteiki, and an illustrated text dating from the Muromachi period (1333-1573). The origins of Japanese garden design principles are said to be traceable back to these two texts. The location of Shinto shrines were near striking natural formations, waterfalls, caves, rock formations, mountain tops or forrest glens reflecting the idea that kami spirits were located in nature. The earliest shrines were mounds, caves or groves. Kami occur in two categories (object kami) and mythical and historical persons (active kami). Illustrated is off-shore rock kami.
The following story is related of an off-shore rock just off Oshima:
“The kami enshrined here is Ichikishimahime, daughter of Susano, and eldest of the three Munakata princesses. Just off Oshima is a large rock protuding from the sea. The story is when Ichikishimahime heard she was going to be enshrined on Oshima, she was really excited and proud because Oshima means ‘Great Island’, but when she got here and saw just how small it really was, her tears formed the rock.”
With the introduction of Buddhism into Japan the earliest interaction saw local kami asking to be saved from their kami-state by means of Buddhist ritual.
Make it extraordinary
What makes the setting of a town extraordinary? What makes a development extraordinary? What makes a garden extraordinary?
Is it the subtlety of colour? Is it the unexpected? Strong formal qualities? A sense of fun? Or a location to die for?
Or the delight of the whimsical? Or recognition of the familiar?
Just what is the X-factor that makes a design extraordinary?
Healing hurts: past
The big picture of the London Riots is very disturbing. The burnt out shell of the 140 year old Reeves furniture store is symbolic of the losses London has suffered. “It is now likely that the damage which was ‘worse than the blitz’ would force the ravaged building to be demolished and rebuilt.” How to explain the mindless and pointless destruction and the reckless endangering of life supposedly by a twentyone year old?
So is it social division, or a bizarre new form of recreation to relieve ennui, the result of political correctness, a new phenomenon of virtual gangs or some other cause?
More importantly, how should London rebuilt to heal hurts past and with a renewed confidence as the Olympic city? And what lessons does the experiences in London hold for the sustainable urban design and planning of other complex global cities?
The future is blossoming
The stained glass windows of Josef Albers (1920-33) demonstrate the remarkable advances that were made in glass art in the period between 1885 (with the Tiffany glass Company) and 1933 (with students from the Bauhaus), and the increasing links between emerging art movements and gardens (hinted at by Filoli ).
Art Nouveau began a remarkable period in the history of art, when designers inspired by nature and natural forms, began a creative transformation which would lead to the pure abstraction of Modernism, perhaps most typified in the work of Gustav Klimt.
Louis Comfort Tiffany, was the third generation of successful American entrepreneurs. His father founded the jewelry company, Tiffany & Co, while his grandfather had been a leading cloth manufacturer.
Mirroring the emerging emancipation of women which typifies the age, the daffodil lamp, designed by one the ‘Tiffany Girls’ Clara Discoll, is considered among the most famous of the studio’s designs.