Thursday, December 20, 2007

Living Walls

A theme that will recur often, is the idea of meshing landscape and architecture, particularly related to building skin. This approach has recently been showcased with the work of Patrick Blanc - specifically related to the Musee du quai Branly in Paris which has been extensively documented elsewhere...

A few recent versions:
Referenced in the Southeast portion of the US, and touted as 'the largest soil based green wall in N. America. It is a 2000 +/- square foot green wall with a variety of> sedum genus.' Using GLT's modular system, it' envelops a portion of building and wraps corners - a significant project that harkens back to when ecoroofs were a fledgling industry and we all got excited for any signficant square footage.

:: via press release from Green Living Technologies

An elegant version from Seoul, Korea - this project uses a geotextile and plantings of clover at a fashion retail store. I especially like the extensive building coverage, as well as the integration with windows and curves:

::via TreeHugger additional images found at DesignBoom

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Landscape and Sustainability

The new Sustainable Sites Initiative from ASLA and The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is a wonderful step in the right direction for sustainable landscapes. In the world where LEED is dominant, the true essence of landscape is sometimes forgotten in a push for drip irrigation and native plantings, it is a positive step to see. In addition, the Cascadia Chapter of the USGBC is offering a companion to the Living Building Challenge entitled the Living Site and Infrastructure Challenge.

The push for formalized sustainable strategies is laudable and necessary, as it seems to drive more sustainable design to assign points/globes/whatnot to a project that to merely design the way we are supposed to. I am equally puzzled by the response to the Sustainable Sites Initiative in this months editorial 'Completing the Puzzle' from Metropolis, December 2007 by Susan S. Szenasy:

"I’ve always thought of landscape architects as advocates for nature, proponents of healthy outdoor living who respect the local flora and fauna as well as human needs and cultures. But all too often I’ve been disappointed by their superficial knowledge of these things—or worse yet, their cavalier disregard for them. This new initiative has the potential to put landscape architects, though they come late to the discussion on sustainable design, at the very heart of our ongoing dialogue on ways to integrate the powers of nature with our equally powerful

Hmmm. i'm missing something here? I believe this is a product of the innate 'quietness' of Landscape Architecture as a profession - as there is a long history of landscape architects at the forefront of sustainable design... perhaps we are just too nice.

Integrating Habitats: A Competition

Phew. So i seem to have forgotten the toll on everything that occurs when one agrees to enter and invest in a competition, specifically those done on one's own time. The Integrating Habitats Competition I was working on finished on Monday - thus the long delay in posts. See a small version of our entry board below:

Competitions are a funny thing. Having only entered a few in my lifetime, it's a interesting duality of visionary design, detachment from a certain reality, and the ability to express ideas in a forum much different from the normal day-to-day operations. In a certain way, it's a lot like school - not just the late nights and not being able to shut off your brain thinking about it - but the way in which you are thinking on a different level. Sometimes it is a higher level - expanding where perhaps not-profitable in a regular project. Sometimes its a bit lower - detaching from reality to a degree where sometimes anything goes. Is the idea to general viable projects or to generate ideas?

Either way, i'm ready for the next one in about 6 months... and looking to reflect on this in more detail after i've had a chance to forget about it. For information on a totally different competition - just revealed, go the The Park at the Center of the World competition page, featuring entries by Field Operations, West 8, Hargreaves, WRT, and REX. I will post more after i've had a chance to absorb them in greater detail.

(note: in the interim before judging, i took this post down because it had our entry, but now that winners have been announced, here 'tis.) Check out the upcoming post for more detail on the entry.