Tag Archives: sustainable landscape architecture

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.

London with a green roof

London as it should be - greened

Thank you to Allen & Overy for opening their offices under the Open House scheme – and congratulations to them for having an office with genuinely green credentials. Roof space is used for solar panels, roof gardens or wildlife habitats (brown roofs). As the office brochure remarks ‘One of the best features of Bishops Square is the ability to hold barbecues in the summer or evening drinks on the terrace’. For me, it was a pleasure to see the City taking a small step towards the London equivalent of New York As it Should Be.

The City should designate its Square Mile as a Green Roof Zone.

Roofscapes as citywide landscape architecture

The Dirt (ASLA) blog has a post on “living buildings”. It reviews the idea that in future a building ‘won’t just use less water; it will collect and treat it. It won’t just force air; it will filter it’. This reminds me of the excellent example ASLA set the world by putting a green roof on its own office building – and suggests a possible future for the profession. ‘Landscape architecture’ is, I believe, one of the world’s most important professions, but the general public has never come to terms with its name. We could and should give it a new slant by taking the lead in ‘the landscaping of architecture’. As the photo of the ASLA building shows, a focus on the landscape treatment of individual buildings in not enough. We should develop citywide landscape strategies for buildings with useful exterior surfaces. They can be used for recreation, carbon sequestration, food production, rainwater harvesting and much else. The diagram from a 1996 City as landscape essay on Eco-cities, suggests a citywide approach to the landscape treatment of roofscapes – and has a slight visual kinship with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associate’s design for the ASLA green roof.