Progressive Geographies

Michael Shapiro’s new book Studies in Trans-Disciplinary Methods: After the Aesthetic Turnis now out.

This groundbreaking and innovative text addresses the deep ontological and epistemological commitments that underpin conventional positivist methods and then demonstrates how “method” can be understood in much broader and more interesting ways.

Drawing on a broad range of philosophical and methodological theory as well as a wide variety of artistic sources from fine art to cinema and from literature to the blues, leading contemporary thinker Michael Shapiro shows the reader how a more open understanding of the concept of method is rewarding and enlightening. His notion of ‘writing-as-method’ is enacted throughout the text and offers a stimulating alternative for students to positivist social science methods.

This is essential reading for all students and faculty with an interest in post-positivist methods.

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monovolume architecture: hydroelectric power plant punibach

Isn’t this how stuff should fit in the landscape? From designboom

‘hydroelectric power plant punibach’ by monovolume architecture, planeiler alm, italy
all images courtesy of monovolume architecture

hidden within the delicate landscape, italian practice monovolume architecture‘s hydroelectric power plant punibach’ engineered by SEL AG, converts natural forces into useful energy while maintaining an artfully low profile in the alpine environment.
a rather simple solution was found for a space full of loud, bulky machinery while visually making an inconsequential impact of the site. a free-flowing concrete structure peels out of the hills, opening a fissure in the hillside supporting a green roof that camouflages the
otherwise industrial building. thin wood planks of varying sizes are revealed in this split in the ground plane to form a lamellar wall, where the warm light from the interior glows in the pitch-dark surroundings.

view form alpine forest

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Bill Moggridge 1943-2012

Bill Moggridge one of the design worlds greats has passed on after an inspirational life as foundering member of IDEO and author of Designing Interactions 2007 – and Designing Media 2010 here is  tribute to his life from dezeen

Bill Moggridge 1943-2012

Dezeen News: Industrial designer Bill Moggridge, who created the first laptop computer, co-founded global design company IDEO and more recently was director of the Cooper-Hewitt museum in New York, has died aged 69.

Moggridge’s pioneering work on early laptop computers earned him the 2010 Prince Philip Designers Prize. Earlier that year he was named director of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York.

Design Museum App Collection: computers

Hear Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic talking about Moggridge’s  1984 GRiD Compass 1101 laptop (above) in our movie.

Industrial designer Bill Moggridge

Here’s a statement from the Cooper-Hewitt:

Bill Moggridge, director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum since 2010, died Sept. 8, following a battle with cancer. He was 69 years old. Designer of the first laptop computer and co-founder of IDEO, the renowned innovation and design firm, Moggridge pioneered interaction design and integrated human factors into the design of computer software and hardware.

“All of us at the Smithsonian mourn the loss of a great friend, leader and design mind,” said Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough. “In his two short years as director of Cooper-Hewitt, Bill transformed the museum into the Smithsonian’s design lens on the world, and we are forever grateful for his extraordinary leadership and contributions.”

As Cooper-Hewitt’s fourth director, Moggridge oversaw the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. In this role, he worked to establish the museum as the pre-eminent national design resource, enhance its profile as one of the world’s leading authorities on the role of design in everyday life and develop and present exhibitions—both real and virtual.

“During his tenure, Bill led the museum to the highest exhibition attendance numbers on record, pioneered bringing design into the K-12 classroom and dramatically increased digital access to the collection through vehicles like the Google Art Project,” said Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture. “His innovative vision for the future of the museum will be realized upon reopening, and his foresight will impact museum visitors and design thinkers of tomorrow. He will be greatly missed.”

“Bill’s death is a tremendous loss to the Cooper-Hewitt family,” said Paul Herzan, chairman of the board of trustees. “We will all continue to work together to see that his strategic vision is implemented.  As a designer, Bill set in motion a retelling of the story of design—its place in history and future possibilities—within the bold and interactive context of a renovated Cooper-Hewitt campus.”

“Beloved by the museum staff and the design community at large, Bill touched the lives of so many through his wise council, boundary-pushing ideas and cheerful camaraderie,” said Caroline Baumann, associate director of the museum. “A true team builder and convener by nature, his efforts at Cooper-Hewitt and throughout the design world will be forever remembered.”

Read More at dezeen

And The New York Times

Artful park restoration with ecological benefits – but my one question is – where are the people in these pictures – do these beautiful pictures represent the needs of anyone who lives there – what do they do for enhancing peoples lives or are they only for the ‘environment?’These are political questions that Landscape Architects and designers are loath to enter into – after all we need the work don’t we?

IFLA 2012 Congress : High Performance Landscapes and Landscape Research

The urgent need for the landscape architecture profession to engage with global climate change issues and to become involved in research and conversations around climate change issues and in turn to broaden its agenda to include and embrace performance metrics in its suite of tools was highlighted by Foster Ndubisi’s presentation “Quantifying The Benefits Of High-Performing Landscapes:Prospects And Challenges’‘  at the recent IFLA 2012 Congress in Cape Town, where he emphasised the lack of effective baseline measurements of projects and how this hampered the ability of the landscape architecture profession to back up its claims that landscapes have a value beyond purely aesthetics and concepts of “place making.”  His work with the LAF’s (Landscape Architecture Foundation) ‘Landscape Performance Series’ embodies the type of research and knowledge critically required in order to both deliver and prove the true value of green infrastructure improvements.

The Landscape Performance Series is an online interactive set of resources to show the value of sustainable landscape solutions and provide tools for designers, agencies and advocates to quantify benefits and make the case for sustainable landscapes.

The Landscape Performance Series (LPS) is designed to fill a critical gap in the marketplace and make the concept of “Landscape Performance” and its contribution to sustainability as well known as “Building Performance” is today. The LPS is not a rating system, but rather a hub that brings together information and innovations from research, professional practice and student work in the form of:

  • Case Study Briefs
  • Benefits Toolkit
  • Fast Fact Library
  • Scholarly Works

Coincidently I am reading ‘Landscape Architecture Research’ by Simon Swaffield and M. Ellen Deming who revue the state of recent landscape architecture research and whilst amongst the general themes that emerge, they identify Green Infrastructure as an important topic, they also comment ” Furthermore, some areas of major activity in related disciplines receive little explicit attention in landscape architecture literature. Most noticeable of these is the relative lack of attention to the challenge of climate change adaptation and mitigation at multiple scales. At the precise moment when the practice of landscape architecture is becoming vital to our collective survival, its lack of a coherent research agenda and its lack of relative impact in the wider field of published knowledge make it vulnerable to becoming sidelined in the global academy. The discipline clearly needs a broader and better organized professional research agenda to guide is initiatives, a cleared understanding of what it means to be research based, rather than a service driven profession, and stronger focus upon effective dissemination of the knowledge it creates.”

Foster Ndubisi also spoke about the LAF’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program and that this is not solely a North american incentive but could be applied for by practitioners and academics world wide.

The Case Study Investigation (CSI) program is a unique research collaboration that matches LAF-funded student-faculty research teams with leading practitioners to document the benefits of exemplary high-performing landscape projects. Teams develop methods to quantify environmental, economic and social benefits and produce Case Study Briefs for LAF’s Landscape Performance Series.

The teams are led by LAF Research Fellows, select faculty members with demonstrated interest or expertise in quantifying landscape benefits. Fellows develop methods for data collection, provide academic rigor, and receive funding to support a student research assistant.

Participating firms apply with specific projects and are selected based on the quality of the project, availability of information to document performance, and commitment to participate in the CSI process.

The CSI program is highly collaborative with the goal of better integrating the innovative work being done by academia and practice to advance our knowledge of landscape performance. By investing in this research, LAF hopes that CSI can be a key impetus in moving the landscape architecture profession toward routinely collecting performance data, designing every project with specific performance objectives, and integrating landscape performance in design education.

For more information, contact Linda Ashby at

Green Infrastructure at OLIN .

Olin’s release to the public of their Green Infrastructurepaper and agenda, while largely a advertorial and a punt for business, highlights the importance of quantifying the benefits of green infrastructure improvements in terms of both urban sustainability and climate change mitigation. Read about OLIN’s approach to Green Infrastructure in their new journal.

Green infrastructure is about more than just sustainability—it’s about access to public space, and the quality of the experience from every angle, be it social, economic, or ecological. We design parks and plazas, but what we’re really doing is creating social attractors within a larger network formed by parks, infrastructure, architecture and communities. And because of the resources and specific talents of the team at OLIN, we’re able to make everything we do results-oriented. It’s like the city is our lab.”Steve Benz, OLIN Partner & Director of Green Infrastructure  outlines olin’s strategic intent in the brochure:

Living City Revealed: A 25-year build-out of a 100% renewable energy, 100% water balanced eco-district. OLIN

‘In our current era, we can’t just design places that are aesthetically pleasing or functional—designers of the built environment are challenged to explore the multifarious and interconnected relationships of ecology, economy, politics, social justice, energy, resources and health. Contemporary design solutions demand the incorporation of both function and form within sites; resilient, performative landscapes are better able to respond to the complex demands for the future lives of our cities. In order to develop truly sustainable solutions, OLIN’s Green Infrastructure approach uses measurable criteria for social, ecological and economic performance. Metrics act as a mechanism to evaluate a design’s performance throughout the design process; recalibration is necessary to ensure that a project’s sustainability outcomes actually meet goals set in early design stages. Metrics are a means to inform the design of dynamic systems which comprise cities and holds design professionals accountable through a rigorous methodology.’

The blocks were once composed of a tight-knit street fabric of row homes and masonry commercial uses, all within close proximity to breweries. After Prohibition and the rise of the suburbs, the neighborhood declined into a hodge-podge of viable homes, derelict buildings and vacant lots awaiting a new future.