Friday, January 29, 2010

return of landscape

“Landscape must become the law.”

exhibition Berlin Germany - 13.03.2010 - 30.05.2010
Such was the call, made as early as 1959, by the landscape architect Walter Rossow in the face of rapidly increasing water pollution and destruction of the environment.

Fifty years later his call is more relevant than ever: The urban over-exploitation of the countryside is causing environmental problems of unimaginable magnitude world-wide - and the concepts involved are familiar: climate change, water shortage, food shortages and the disappearance of species.

Urban sustainability must be conceived in a larger, more comprehensive way. The city of the twenty-first century must be developed from the landscape. But, in this process, the landscape must be seen as more than just a supplier of material resources; it must be strengthened, too, in its significance as an aesthetic and emotional living space.

The Akademie der Künste in Berlin is placing these topics at the centre of the large, interdisciplinary exhibition Return of Landscape.

Among other subjects, the exhibition will feature a comparative juxtaposition of the world’s two most artificial cities: Las Vegas (see photo; credit: Alex S. MacLean for Akademie der Künste, 2009) and Venice.

The following offices will be presenting their work: Shlomo Aronson Landscape Architects, Jerusalem; Astoc, Cologne; RMP, Bonn; Batlle i Roig, Barcelona; Workshop: Ken Smith Landscape Architect, New York; Studio Boeri, Milan; Turenscape, Peking; Atelier Corajoud, Paris; Kiefer, Berlin; Kienle, Stuttgart; Lohrberg, Stuttgart, and Venturi, Venice.

Monday, January 25, 2010

planning for biodiversity: mixed native hedgerow

The native hedgerow provides structurally diverse habitats that include a mix of vegetation types varying in height and form. This variation in structure provides different types of critical habitats for a variety of native wildlife species. Ecological benefits include natural fertilization of native and domestic plant material, natural pest control, provision of food, shelter and important travel corridors for native species.

planted hundreds of years ago
this native hedgerow winds its way through the English country side.

Set in an urban context, I have been asked to solve a boundary issue while providing visitors an educational opportunity to learn more about the potential of our native flora and fauna.

Below are a few species I am using on the project.
All selected plant materials have been chosen for their suitability to the sites soil and climate conditions, while offering foraging potential for both humans and wildlife.

Crataegus sp.
This thorny, vigorous grower will thrive in any soil and situation. The nectar rich May blossoms attracts 150 insect species, including bees and other pollinators, while the fruits provide food in winter for the local bird population.

Corylus sp.
The Hazel responds well to hard pruning and are known for their prolific nut production and architectural branching structure.

Viburnum opulus
The guelder rose is laden with bright red berries in Autumn and the creamy white flowers are a favorite of the hover fly.

Symphoricarpos albus
Snowberry is unlike almost any other plant in the world. The profusion of white winter berries appear to float lightly in the air and illuminate the space in which they inhabit.

Prunus sp.
Like Crataegus sp. it produces plenty of flowers and fruit to support local wildlife while thriving in neglect.

Mahonia sp.
The evergreen foliage will create shelter for local wildlife during the winter months when cover is scarce. The berries can also be harvested and eaten raw or used in preserves.

Rubus spectabilis
fruit + edible young shoots can be used in salads while attracting an abundance of hummingbirds.

native plant references
Native society of British Columbia NPSBC

The Native Plant Study Group (NPSG) is an affiliate chapter of the Native Plant Society of British Columbia

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

you are the city | Petra Kempf

I am currently waiting for the arrival of Petra Kempf's book You Are the City, which is not actually a book but a series of transparent sheets which allows the reader to perceive the urban phenomena by isolating and superimposing individual components in order to have a personal interpretation of what the city is.

I chose this excerpt from an interview with as I thought Kempf's answer was not only refreshing but reaffirmed why I originally connected with the concept of her publication.

Ethel Baraona:
There are lots of technical and digital ways to represent cities and mapping new urban plans, but you used a simple traditional way to reproduce the city just with 22 sheets of clear acetate and this is enough to represent all the concepts you want to show in the book. So, what do you think about all these new digital technologies to make data visualizations and what do you think about the future of mapping techniques?

Petra Kempf:
I agree, there are many ways to represent cities and each of the mapping technologies available certainly have their value and importance. However the technologies that are currently available, are mostly based on numbers and facts, not personal experiences. But to really experience a city one must be part of it. This is an analog process, by which we engage with a city’s intricate fabric. To re-create that analog process, in this project, I needed to use a tool that helped me simulate that experience. The limitations and computational restrictions of a computer program did not allow me that opportunity.

I appreciate that you used the word ‘simple’ to describe the method of drawing. Albert Einstein wrote once that if one is not able to describe complex things in a simple way, one has failed the purpose of communicating altogether. I believe he is right about this. These simple analog drawings are intertwined with a complex body of text; of language, of ideas. The mind, the body, and the human experience reside in the drawings through the text. I mean to suggest, through the text and the drawings, an engaged human experience. Do the drawings stand alone? Yes, but perhaps there is also a certain kind of silence, of contemplative thought required by the participant to see them or read them. Nevertheless, the drawings are intertwined with my thoughts, my text on the city.

images via kosmograd +
interview via

Monday, January 11, 2010

Activating Nature with Gross Max

If you have yet to familiarize yourself with the work of Gross. Maxx........your slipping.
The firm lead by Bridget Baines, Eelco Hooftman and Nigel Sampey (formerly of West 8) represent a new generation of contemporary European landscape architecture.

We chose Gross Maxx and Chora Architecture's collaborative proposal for the state of Berlin's Urban Landscape and design competition to represent the firm's progressive outlook on the relationship between nature and technology.

Open two stage urban-landscape architectural design competition

State of Berlin, represented by the Senate Department for Urban Development

Occasion and Purpose:
With the cessation of flight operations at Tempelhof Airport on October 31 2008, Berlin recovers a large inner-city area which was withdrawn from the urban development for decades and can now be developed in stages and reintegrated into the city organism.

the site

Plan for the renewal of the Tempelhof Airport site, Gross Max in partnership with Chora Architecture & Urbanism, Joost Grootens and Buro Happold.

The partnership’s conceptual proposal suggests the development of new city quarters and the construction of a renewable energies power plant which will supply power to the adjacent districts and play a key role in achieving the German government’s targets to reduce CO2 emissions.

Check out Gross.Max. for more

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

architectonic art by Julie Mehretu

Mehretu’s points of departure are architecture and the city, particularly the accelerated, compressed and densely populated urban environments of the 21st Century. Her canvases overlay different architectural features such as columns, façades and porticoes with different geographical schema such as charts, building plans and city maps and architectural renderings, seen from different perspectives, at once aerial, cross-section and isometric. Her paintings present a tornado of visual incident where gridded cities become fluid and flattened, like many layers of urban graffiti. Mehretu has described her rich canvases as ‘story maps of no location’, seeing them as pictures into an imagined, rather than actual reality. Through its cacophony of marks, her work seems to represent the speed of the modern city depicted, conversely, with the time-aged materials of pencil and paint.