While gardens might seem mundane in relation tout expressing problems of the world – maybe they can they give us a space to reconsider out transience and inspire us to do more to share it with all?

THE DIRT


Jinny Blom is one of the leading garden designers in the United Kingdom. Her work has been featured in
The Guardian, The Telegraph, Gardens Illustrated, House & Gardens, Vogue, and other publications. Blom is on the board of the U.S. Therapeutic Landscapes Network.

You’re just about a household name in the UK for your gardens, which go from the seemingly wildly romantic to somewhat intellectual and contemporary. You’ve said design is “more a matter of intelligence and appropriateness than reflecting a style.” So there is no Jinny Blom style? And if not, is there a set of principles or ethics that guide your work?

I don’t think I have a style. I am me and I like certain things. They’re probably all things that repeat like certain plants but I wouldn’t say that was a style. I think it is much more about having a philosophy. It sounds…

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Even the basis of our orientation is in perpetual flux – do humans have a location analysis tool built into us as well that we have forgotten how to intepret- i.e. are smart phones making us stupid?

Free Association Design

[World Magnetic Model maps notating the magnetic field’s intensity (top) and inclination lines, or angle of the earth’s magnetic field above or below horizontal (bottom)]

[Film of a suspension of dissociated cells from trout “olfactory epithelium” (cells extracted from some unfortunate trout’s nose) placed under the laboratory influence of a magnetic field rotating at a frequency of 0.33 Hz.  We can see the iron-laden epithelium cell (near the center), rotating in tandem with the magnetic field.  Through this procedure, scientists postulate that they have isolated magnetoreceptor cells that respond to the Earth’s magnetic field.  Equipped with this sensorial compass, migratory fish may be able to feel which way is north, as well as detect small differences in magnetic field strength to navigate along global lines of inclination.]

Typically when we speak of migration, we think of monarch butterflies, people, snow geese or Chinook salmon; organisms…

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Moving Cities: From Transport to Transaction

Thought Piece from Tim Stonor of Space Syntax  that furthers the debate on activity streets and how mixed mode transport enhances city space and the transactions that underlie a cities dynamics from UBM’s Future Cities

Tim Stonor

Cities are ultimately vessels for the concentrated production and sustenance of life. Yet this intrinsic aspect of urbanism — the human factor — is neglected in many future cities discussions.

 

Rather, these discussions are often dominated by talks of transport and using technology to manage existing traffic systems.

We shouldn’t be surprised by the transportation fixation. After all, transport concerns have led urban policymaking for over a century. But we should be aware of its risks. Today’s cities bear the scars of the “time is money” obsession for ever greater, faster means of transport — an approach that has been pursued at a massive social, economic, and environmental cost: leading to inner-urban highways that divide communities, and patterns of inefficient,obesogenic traffic congestion. These are the globally consistent, predictable products of urban policy, and that policy needs rethinking.

Transport must be seen as a means to an end, not the end itself. The objective must be the creation of successful human interaction in pursuit of meaningful living. This requires people coming together in rooms, corridors, streets, and public spaces, creating patterns of human interaction in pursuit of social and economic gain.

For this to happen, a radical shift in urban thinking is required, from “transport” to “transaction.” How do we do this?

As a first step, the purpose of transport needs to be re-conceptualized: from being “the facilitator of movement” to becoming the “enhancer of interaction.”

The implications of such an approach for urban practice are radically straightforward: a focus on streets, not highways; on street networks and public spaces, not single grand projects; a rebalancing of priorities toward slow modes of movement — walking and cycling — and away from high-speed transit; toward effective interaction and not movement for the sake of it; toward the benefits of stopping in public space, not simply speeding through cities; toward sitting, leaning, and relaxing as key aspects of transport policy; toward people, not vehicles.

‘Pedestrian activity in London’s Trafalgar Square’

To see this transformation in action, contrast the slowed-down, pedestrian-friendly spaces of the City of London, Midtown Manhattan, or Copenhagen with the traffic-dominated, speed-obsessed streets they once were. Or, consider the steps of Trafalgar Square, where people linger over a business conversation instead of charging past as they did before that space was redesigned with interaction in mind. Then consider the global wave of rapidly urbanizing cities pursuing the car-first policy that London, New York, Copenhagen, and many others have since abandoned. The future cost for doing so is massive and preventable.

What is the role of technology in helping to achieve the policy transformation from transport to transaction? In its power and pervasiveness, digital infrastructure creates a new urban utility, and, as with electricity, water, or gas, it is incumbent upon city leaders to manage it for the benefit of citizens.

In line with a transport policy shift toward human interaction, digital infrastructure should be conceived principally in terms of its lifestyle benefits. Some would argue this is already the case, but the “lifestyle” I refer to is not one in which people stay at home in front of plasma screens, communicating via teleconference. Instead, it involves people coming together in streets and public spaces as well, being aware of each other, sharing information and ideas, making social and economic contact. Far from retrogressive, this new urban paradigm will be forward-thinking and technologically enabled. It will, for example, require new social networking apps aimed at facilitating face-to-face interactions.

This is how prosperous cities have always worked; it is the missing ingredient when cities fail; and it is how future cities will be able to thrive. If the scope of urban policy makers can be widened from a fixation on transport to an appreciation of value-rich urban outcomes, built on the benefits of effective human interaction, then future cities are more likely to be places that meet the expectations of future citizens.

— Tim Stonor, Architect & Urban Planner, Managing Director, Space Syntax

Email Is The New Pony Express–And It’s Time To Put It Down

I’m sure that this will strike a chord with all bloggers and users of mail in gathering  the threads they work with together – is it time that the digital world gets it third space so we can work more fruitfully together? By Ryan Holmes on Fast Company

In early 2011, the CEO of a French IT company issued an usual memorandum. He banned email. Employees were discouraged from sending or receiving internal messages, with the goal of eradicating email within 18 months. Critics scoffed. Workers rebelled. But Thierry Breton, the CEO of Atos, has stuck to his guns, reducing message volume by an estimated 20%. His company, by the way, has 74,000 employees in 48 countries.

Email is familiar. It’s comfortable. It’s easy to use. But it might just be the biggest killer of time and productivity in the office today. I’ll admit my vendetta is personal. I run a company,HootSuite, which is focused on disrupting how the world communicates using social media. Yet each day my employees and I send each other thousands of emails, typing out addresses and patiently waiting for replies like we were mailing letters on the Pony Express.

As we’ve expanded from 20 to 200 employees over the last two years, the headaches have only grown. Anyone with an inbox knows what I’m talking about. A dozen emails to set up a meeting time. Documents attached and edited and reedited until no one knows which version is current. Urgent messages drowning in forwards and cc’s and spam.

It’s not just me who thinks email’s days are numbered. (In fact, AOL is quietly working on a major email overhaul that wold look like mashup of Twitter, Pinterest, and Gmail.) Among 18-24 year olds, time spent on webmail has declined 34% in the last year alone, and nearly 50% since 2010, according to comScore’s 2012 U.S. Digital Future in Focus report.

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Movie: Chris Wilkinson on Gardens by the Bay

 

World Architecture Festival 2012: ”No one’s ever seen anything like it before,” director of Wilkinson Eyre Architects Chris Wilkinson tells Dezeen in this movie we filmed overlooking the Gardens by the Bay tropical garden in Singapore, which wasnamed World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival earlier this month.

Gardens by the Bay

Wilkinson Eyre Architects collaborated with landscape architects Grant Associates and engineers Atelier One and Atelier Ten on the design of the project, which features eighteen of the tree-like towers and two “cooled conservatories” containing Mediterranean and tropical plants.

Gardens by the Bay

As a British architect Wilkinson discusses Kew Gardens in London, which was constructed in the Victorian era to bring tropical gardens to a colder climate, and he describes how the “flower-dome” does the opposite, by housing Mediterranean plants within the tropical climate of Singapore.

Gardens by the Bay

“What I find interesting is the experiment of changing the climate but doing it in an economical way in terms of energy,” he says, and explains that a biomass boiler powered by clippings from plants all over Singapore generates most of the energy needed to control the temperatures inside the conservatories.

Gardens by the Bay

Visitors can walk around the gardens using bridges raised 20 metres above the ground, which lead to a cafe on the top of the tallest  tower. ”I don’t think its fair to call it a theme park, but it’s designed to attract people of all ages and all nationalities as a leisure facility,” says Wilkinson.

Gardens by the Bay

You can see more images of the project in our earlier story, or watch another movie we filmed with Wilkinson Eyre’s Paul Baker just after the World Building of the Year Award was announced.

Landscape of the Year announced at World Architecture Festival

World Architecture Festival 2012: the Kallang River Bishan Park in Singapore by landscape designers Atelier Dreiseitl has been given the title Landscape of the Year at the World Architecture Festival (+ slideshow).

Kallang River Bishan Park by Atelier Dreiseitl

A river winds through the centre of the park, replacing a concrete-sided canal, and features bio-engineered edges created with a variety of different plants.

Kallang River Bishan Park by Atelier Dreiseitl

This river also forms a flood plan during heavy rain, helping water to drain away naturally and preventing the grassy areas from becoming waterlogged.

Kallang River Bishan Park by Atelier Dreiseitl

A new bridge connects the park with the residential area beyond.

Kallang River Bishan Park by Atelier Dreiseitl

We’ve also announced winners for World Building of the Year and Future Project of the Year, as well as all the category winners from day one and day two.

Kallang River Bishan Park by Atelier Dreiseitl

Dezeen is media partner for the World Architecture Festival, which is taking place at the Marina Bay Sands hotel and conference centre in Singapore. You can follow all our coverage of the event here, including a series of movies we filmed with programme director Paul Finch.

First the Forests

Here examined the social construction of forest technology – its not simply that the world around us  is constructed – but our views of how it is constructed are largely out of sight – here in Cape Town controversies on the removal of artificial forests only a few decades old by the ‘retoratiostionistas’ pursuing their green gods of reintroducing the endangered  “sand plain fynbos” are constructing an equally artificial world to the one that is the site of battles by local residents who walk their dogs in the shade of exotic pines… what does it imply that the natural and the artificial are conflated in public eyes…. hybrids are proliferated everywhere ( see Bruno Latour – “We have never been modern)

The inaugural exhibition of the Young Curators Program at the CCA argues that forests are not the natural scenery that we think they are, but a highly processed, rational, productive and manicured environment. An architecture report from Montreal by Marcelo López-Dinard in Domus

Satellite image of the checkerboard forests in Montana, 2008. ©Terraserver

Suddenly, everything gets a different gloss. And by everything I mean whatever nature has surrounded me in the past couple of days. I have crossed the New York State’s Adirondack Park Preserve two times in less than a week, to visit the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) — researching the undisciplined Gordon Matta-Clark — in francophone Montréal. As you might be thinking, it must have been a beautiful and bucolic trip during the Fall season watching the multicolored trees and the landscape from the train, indeed, it was. But, the return trip to New York forced me to look through the window in a different way, although in a Park Preserve, I was curious searching for clues and signs among the trees. Are they aligned?, Are this pieces the result of nature’s own growth? Are they following a rational pattern? All these questions arose by one recent provocation, the inaugural exhibition of the Young Curators Program started by the CCA in 2011 that opened last 4 October with an introductory lecture by Dan Handel, the recipient of the program among 250 international proposals.

Entitled First, The Forests, the exhibition explores the ways in which we understand and perceive forests, introducing the concept of forestry as a design (not just science) tool and a form of knowledge about creating artificial forests. With some previous research on his back, the curator — with a Master degree in architecture from Harvard GSD and a PhD candidate at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology — proposes an invitation to question the “romantic and more traditional approach of the forest and nature”, as suggested by Mirko Zardini, Director and Chief

Large-scale model of a generic Swiss forest, designed by Heidi and Peter Wenger for the 1965 national Lausanne Expo. © Archives de la construction moderne – Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, fonds Heidi & Peter Wenger

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Location Based Services are to People as Sheep Dogs are to Herding

Back after a recent laptop crash and insurance replacement with accompaning stress of problems with installing backup to  iMac – bad experience for a otherwise perfect Mac – lots of time for trying to browse my mail on my iPhone ( not good fro updating blogs)  and lots of time for guitar practice -but anyway…two weeks later …. So this article on how we are shaping ourselves via allowing our instruments to tell us where to go, from URBAN TIMES by 

We’re experiencing a culture where people carry around powerful computing devices on a standard basis, typically in the guise of a mobile device. These objects make it seem normal to share everything from the song we just liked on Spotify and the restaurant we’re visiting for dinner to updates that we’re on vacation away from our homes. This mobile technology is reconfiguring our social and urban spaces, creating a geotagged city space, and redefining our meaning of location-based services. More specifically, we not only use location-based services to update our friends of our whereabouts, but also to decide where we should visit based on the opinions of people we care about. In this way, we are transforming location-based services into a type of “social norm” we count on for reinforcing our behaviors and decisions. Thus, we end up herding ourselves by relying onlocation-based services to tell us where to go.

Photo Credit: teamstickergiant/flickr

Once connected, we become addicted to informing our community about almost every facet of our lives and depend on this online community for advice. If you’re not part of the map, you don’t exist. With the persistence of platforms including, but not limited to, TwitterInstagram and the influx of new technologies, the geotagging trend doesn’t appear to be going away anytime in the near future. The amount of enabling technologies and trends that provide more opportunities for us to update behaviors online continues to grow.

(Personal photograph from SantaCon 2011 in Central Park, New York)

One way in which people leverage location-based services is to coordinate social movement. For example, cities across the United States partake in SantaCon, a gathering of thousands of people dressed up like Santa Clause who convene in one meeting place. The first meeting place is announced the morning of the event and from there, the thousands of Santa Clauses travel to various pre-determined locations throughout the city. Participants must rely on social media updates and location based services to learn about the next organized meeting location. In this way, location-based services are quite literally herding people in packs.

As seen with SantaCon, companies and brands are experimenting with these types of tools that influence behavior. B2C businesses must find the right balance leveraging the tools to increase consumer engagement and enhance loyalty. Mobile communication increasingly raises the bar in terms of influential significance, and in this instance, location-based services enrich the meaning of a physical location. Locations are now made meaningful through the ability to connect with others and share information. Store openings, art gallery exhibits, product launches, restaurants and so much more can gain from the ‘herding’ result produced by location-based services. In a nutshell, people continue to move together in groups, and our advanced technologies and capabilities are not changing our very basic human nature, but only enhancing it.

Photo credit: efactormedia/ flickr