Tag Archives: Sustainable design

Just around the Corner

The Architectural Association in describing ‘Landscape Urbanism’ says what Landscape it is not. It is NOT:

“…understood as a scenographic art, beautifying, greening or naturalising the city.”

And then what it IS;

“…scalar and temporal operations through which the urban is conceived and engaged with.”

Thus, Landscape Urbanism prioritises the phenomenological experience of the city, while distancing itself (perhaps defensively) from the visual aesthetic. Perhaps an ironcial realisation of this preference for the non-aesthetic is the prediction by James Corner of the disappearance of the city into the landscape. Perhaps this prophecy will be realised quite differently than the romantic post-industrial ruin?  Corner, typified by the high line project, focuses on the rehabilitation of the abandoned elements of the city and post-industrial landscape.Can landscape urbanism be artfully conceived? 

Perhaps the city of the future will afterall disappear under the advance of the landscape, but once again capture something of the beauty which is now itself abandoned by its favourite profession?

In search of Sustainable Gardens…

So what is the sustainable aesthetic about? I suggest a few characteristics might be common to the sustainable garden aesthetic:

*  mimicking nature 

* minimal interference with the landscape

* native plant selection

* eco-material selection ie timber and stone

* bushland settings

* curved lines

* low water, low chemical and low maintenance

* absence of paths, boundary fences and made roads

For a garden see: http://www.e-ga.com.au 

For a plant aesthetic see:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/42478440@N00/517961141 

For an idea of how art & sustainability (green design) might have a more dramatic relationship also see the El Molino garden, a blend of formalism and naturalism http://www.anthonyexter.com/gardens/el_molino/2.php which possibly focuses on reduced resource use (water and energy) and plant selection , rather than a strictly natural aesthetic in the form, layout and background to the scheme.


Nothing but blue skies…

Vincent Callebaut has designed what he calls an ‘anti-smog parasite project’ for the city of Paris. He says “its role is to apply all the avant garde renewable energies so as to fight against the Parisian smog.”

Beyond its heroic environmental application Callebaut demonstrates some interesting architectural ideas some reminscent of Foster’s  Gherkin gone green! He also has a sensitive feel for creating interior space with structure….an effect present in the Gherkin, but enhanced to considerable affect in this project.

Undoubtably he was a fan of meccano as a child!




Seine it before?

If the Parisian plan to build a replica of the Sydney Opera House goes ahead half the world will be able to save their airfare to Australia and visit the Opera House and the Effiel Tower simultaneously. Perhaps Sydney need only build an Effiel Tower on the harbour and Australians will have no need of a trip to Paris?

Still, the Opera House undeniably looks good wherever you build it. You can’t blame the Parisians for their good taste!

Perhaps an enterprising young Australian or Danish architect will suggest to the French that they can come up with an original design that will do for the Seine River what the Opera House has done for the harbour in Sydney…..

The city of Graz in Austria has made a low-key addition to the River Mur. While the Brazilian architects Architectum have designed a mobile gallery for the Thames.

As for landscape design? Well tree-lined rivers are not always a priority.


Tunnelling for thermal comfort

Probably the best incentive (but not the only reason) to consider our fellow mobile inhabitants of planet earth in our designs is their incredible cuteness. Unfortuneately, even the cutest of creatures, the wombat can be considered a ‘pest’ because they damage crops and fences and cattle may break their legs when they step in their burrows and because their burrows provide shelter for that other notorious crop damaging pest the rabbit. However the wombat apart from its cuteness has some interesting tunneling experience from which the astute engineer could learn. Wombat burrows are well designed and well ventilated.  “Since temperatures underground are more moderate (less variable), the burrows help keep the wombat cooler in the warm months, and warmer in the cooler months. The burrow’s design provides a stable micro-environment for the wombat by controlling the temperature, oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels.”


Zen: garden as house

the-garden-house1

http://www.archtracker.com/the-garden-house-takeshi-hosaka-architects/2009/04/

Apart from what looks what looks unfortuneately like artifical turf on the roof – the Garden House by Takeshi Hosaka Architects with its tight triangular plan is a surprise and delight! Definitely a garden for my soul! The living spaces are designed around the edges of an enclosed garden courtyard, cleverly stacked and arranged to take advantage of every square mm of space, create privacy and capture views. In the photographs the garden is very young…it would be fantastic to revisit the house as the tree grows and the potted garden matures.

If you can’t resist viewing more  maybe a trip to Japan is in order…





Integrating design with nature or nature with design

Verrena on Lake Como

Verrena on Lake Como

In their paper ‘Being Here – Attitude, Place and  Design for Sustainability’ presented at the Allemandi  Conference Craig Badke and Stuart Walker discuss the  the difference between ‘having’ and ‘being’ for sustainable design.

In these two examples, the historic town of Verrena on Lake Como and Frank Lloyd Wright’s modern organic masterpiece ‘Fallingwater’, architecture and nature exist in a symbiotic relationship. Both respond to topography and stunning natural settings creating a strong sense of place. Note in both instances the use of outdoor terraces and potted plants to create transitional public/private spaces between the indoors and outdoors.

Falling water by Frank Lloyd Wright

Falling water by Frank Lloyd Wright

Having which implies ‘possession’ to some extent;  depends on the ability to control of something external to oneself, whilst being rather suggests the ‘enjoyment’ of what is present to oneself without the need to possess it. It enables the person to exist in radical freedom in relationship to the environment; not to exploit the environment but to harmonise with it.

Surely it is possible to promote such an approach to our urban environments?