What Dose of Nature Do We Need to Feel Better?

What amount of green is enough?


central-park Central Park, New York City / Drive the District

There has been a boom in studies demonstrating the health benefits of spending time in nature, or even just looking at nature. But a group of ambitious landscape architects and psychologists are actually trying to determine how to prescribe a “nature pill.” The big remaining questions are: What dose of nature exposure is needed to achieve maximum mental and physical health benefits (how long and how frequently)? And what form of nature works best? In a talk at the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) conference in Los Angeles, MaryCarol Hunter, ASLA, a landscape architect and ecologist at the University of Michigan, described her efforts to create the guidelines for landscape designs that can lead to the greatest impact.

Hunter and her team examined 44 people over 8 weeks. She asked them to go out and immerse themselves in…

View original post 1,330 more words

The Challenges of Providing Public Space with Private Funds

Private control of public space is a contentious issue , here in Cape Town the lack of funds for maintaining civic infrastructure and parks, this seems viable alternative but the example of City Improvement Districts, where the gentrification of the areas means that these who don’t fit the profile of a gentrified urbanism are more or less forcibly removed, this includes the homeless and self employed street traders, makes some doubtful of this abdication of the cities responsibility to maintain public space averrable for all its citizens.


central-park Central Park Conservancy sign in Central Park Park, NYC / Sallanscorner.wordpress.com

In an age of ample private wealth and an increasingly constrained public sector, a number of American cities have become dependent on privately funded conservancies to maintain and refurbish their public parks. A new report by Peter Harnik, Hon. ASLA, and Abby Martin from The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence explores the rise of such city park conservancies — private organizations that use donations to rebuild, renovate, and, in some cases, maintain some of the most iconic parks in the country. Interspersed with examples from 41 conservancy organizations that have a collective experience record of nearly 750 years, the study serves as a how-to guide for building successful relationships between city governments and urban park conservancies.

While many park-support organizations exist throughout the country, including friends-of-parks groups and business improvement districts, the study defines a…

View original post 781 more words

GBCI Launches SITES, its Newly Acquired Rating System for Sustainable Landscapes


sites Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes, 4-star SITES Certified project / Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES)

The Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) has launched its newly acquired SITES rating system, the most comprehensive program and toolkit for developing sustainable landscapes.

SITES was developed through a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. The rating system can be applied to development projects located on sites with or without buildings – ranging from national parks to corporate campuses, streetscapes and homes, and much more.

“Landscapes knit together the fabric of our communities,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO, GBCI. “And sustainable landscapes are critical in their ability to reduce water demand, filter and reduce storm water runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, improve human health, and increase outdoor…

View original post 493 more words

Landscape Architects: Make Your Voices Heard

Landscape architects as urban activists


lehrer Mia Lehrer, FASLA, advocates for Silverlake Reservoir / Mia Lehrer Associates

We work in a small, but timely profession. Our potential to impact the neighborhoods, communities, and cities where we work is huge. Though landscape architecture professionals make up just a small fraction of the design field, ours is the work that is the first to be seen. Ours is the work that brings function and beauty to parks, plazas, campuses, institutions, and transportation corridors. Ours is a profession that blends the power of design with ecological principals and environmental justice. And because we are few and far between, we have to advocate for what we know.

The responsibility is on us to make our voices heard, not for our own betterment, but for the sake of our communities.

Public awareness is growing around a range of big issues, from humanity’s need for nature to improve our health, to watersheds…

View original post 455 more words

Materia Arquitectura #10: ‘Overlapping representations’

I would like to see this in English -Google translate ids a poor substitute

Landscape Interface Studio

Kingston University’s Assoc Prof Christoph Lueder, School of Architecture and Landscape presents his recent mapping research in Materia Arquitectura #10, December 2014 – ‘Overlapping representations’ – Editor Invitado: Nicolás Stutzin.

architectura This issue of Materia architecture revolves around the notion of “representation”. Nicholas Stutzin, its guest editor, open the delivery with an interview with Farshid Moussavi in ​​which various facets of the theme are analyzed as well as the role played by the drawings, symbols and, especially, affections in contemporary architecture. The six items that make up the dossier present a broad cross between issues around representation. Felipe Corvalan reflects on the drawing and diagram, and the unique ability of display systems to blur the boundaries between theory and practice. Peter Lang, meanwhile, shows us in his article on “12 Ideal Cities” of the architectural rendering Superstudio was able to fill a space of speculation and gambling seems forgotten today.

architectura1 Beyond the…

View original post 111 more words

Is There Room for Ornamentals in the Gardens of “New” California? | The Nature of Cities

California has long been a center of gardening culture. With a mild climate and a history of agricultural expansion followed by rapid urbanization, California’s ornamental gardens are populated by plant species and cultivars imported from all over the world. Many of these exotic species have become iconic, such as the palm trees, figs, and citrus of southern California. However, the current drought has brought wide recognition of the fact that most of these ornamental plants, from the palm trees of Rodeo Drive to Santa Barbara’s landmark Moreton Bay Fig, are supported by irrigation that is rapidly becoming a scarce commodity. So, is there a place for ornamental gardens in the new California? We’ve been studying this question for a number of years in Los Angeles and its surrounding municipalities, and fortunately, the answers are not as alarming as most people seem to assume.

Water conservation in irrigated gardens generally has three components: watering less; employing more efficient irrigation technologies; and changing the composition of garden plants (by removing lawns and non-waterwise species, for example). Many Californians have concerns about the costs of these measures and their implications for the aesthetic and recreational quality of urban parks and gardens. Just as “xeriscaping” became associated with mental images of sparsely planted cacti and succulents that were unappealing to most people, the new language of water conservation is “mandatory watering restrictions,” which brings to mind brown lawns and withered flowers. Is that the future of California’s cities?

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.thenatureofcities.com

California  largely has a Mediterranean climate with winter rain and summer drought much like the Western Cape and Cape Town in particular and like South Africa is short of potable water, especially for its lush gardens and leafy suburbs. This article is relevant given the emphasis on indigenous (native) planting and of South Africa’s version of Xeriscaping- Water-wise gardening and how dependant these lush gardens are  on exotic trees and large expanses of lawns.

Seems there can be both sustainable use of water and a balanced use of water for shade and greenery.

See on Scoop.itUrban Choreography

Designing Resilient Cities – creating a future Avalon

Is Avalon anything like Cities in the south – or is this only a Northern problem? Some (parts) of our South African Cities face the same sets of problems which are overshadowed by the urgency of looking to face ht incoming hordes of urban migrants an face the problem of larger and larger civic infrastructure needs for them and less and less resources and a clear lack of political will to face the required challenges , not to mention the sil0-like mentality of the authorities departments and polarisation around issues of consultation- let alone co-deisgn

The power of the network

Designing Resilient Cities – notes from Day 1
A note from the Vice-Mayor for Infrastructure to the Mayor

Vice-Mayor for Sustainability
Vice-Mayor for Engagement
Vice-Mayor for Disruption
The Public

Avalon faces the risk of functional failure. The only way forward is to change.

Our infrastructure is inefficient. It needs to become efficient. This is not just a question of maintenance. There won’t be enough money to run the transport network, supply water, remove waste, provide broadband. Unless the city either shrinks to a size its current economic structures can afford; or grows to create a larger tax base – so long as the city can retain control over how that tax is spent.

The view of the infrastructure team is that Avalon should grow. But not off the back of its existing industries. These are running out of steam. The industrial infrastructure of the city needs to expand and…

View original post 662 more words

Playa Vista Central Park

Interesting graphic planting design and layout should change quite bit as it matures

laud8 -landscape architecture+urban design

Designed by The Office of James Burnett and Michael Maltzan Architects; Playa Vista Central Park is located on the former site of Howard Hughes’ aircraft facility.

laud8-playavistacentralpark (19)

Playa Vista Central Park is part of the last entitled development sites remaining in the Los Angeles area. Conceived as a public art installation, the park is organized into a series of distinct landscape experiences unified by a central spine and linear bands of specimen trees.

laud8-playavistacentralpark (21)

laud8-playavistacentralpark (3)

laud8-playavistacentralpark (13)

laud8-playavistacentralpark (4)

A central nine acre park consisting of sport courts, playground, soccer field, botanical gardens, water features, and a bandshell, serves as the social hub for the campus.

laud8-playavistacentralpark (15)

laud8-playavistacentralpark (22)

Each parcel has park-front access or direct views to the central green providing a strong relationship between architecture and landscape architecture. Richly landscaped courts and roof gardens are integrated in with the proposed and historic buildings providing tenants with easy access to the famed outdoor environment of Southern California.

laud8-playavistacentralpark (23)

laud8-playavistacentralpark (16)


View original post 99 more words

World’s Largest Study On Cyclist Behaviour: Copenhagen To Cape Town

Considering how cyclist actually use the road is key to organising how we design roads streets for all users -from Future Cape Town on T he Sustainable Cities Collective 

“We truly believe that well-designed infrastructure leads to better behaviour from cyclists

Copenhaganize Cycle Study 001

Desire Lines of cyclists turned into a permanent lane in Copenhagen

Copenhagenize Design Co, the international consultancy specialising in bicycle urbanism are launching a new project that will span continents and use their unique Desire Lines Analysis Tool.

Copenhagenize Logo

The Desire Lines of Cyclists– The Global Study – is described as “the natural evolution” of the original Desire Lines analysis of cyclist behaviour and how cyclists react to urban design called The Choreography of an Urban Intersection. The results of that analysis were unveiled by CEO Mikael Colville-Andersen at Velo-City 2013 in Vienna.

The study from which took place in Copenhagen in 2012 was based on video-recorded observations of 16,631 cyclists during a 12 hour period. Copenhagenize explored the anthropological details of bicycle users and how they interact with other traffic users and the existing urban design. Three categories of cyclists were identified: Conformists, Momentumists, and Recklists.

Choreography of an Urban Intersection and Copenhagenize fixesChoreography of an Urban Intersection and Copenhagenize fixes

Based on this study a new methodology to analyse urban life: the Desire Line Analysis Tool seeks to decode the Desire Lines of cyclists. The main purposes of the analysis is to get a thorough understanding of bicycle users and to rethink intersections to fit modern mobility needs. Like William H. Whyte, Copenhagenize want first to observe people and hence employ anthropology and sociology directly to urban planning – something they feel is sorely lacking.

With increasing focus on re-establishing the bicycle as transport in cities around the world, understanding the behaviour and, indeed, the basic urban anthropology of bicycle users is of utmost importance. Rethinking the car-centric design of intersections and infrastructure is necessary if we are to redesign our cities for new century mobility patterns.

For Copenhagenize there has not been any concrete way of mapping cyclist behaviour. Copenhagenize Design Company’s techniques utilise Direct Human Observation in order to map cyclist behaviour – and gather a motherlode of valuable data from it.

In the last two years at Copenhagenize, urban planners, anthropologists and urban designers have worked on testing, improving and realising new studies in Copenhagen. Using the city as an actual-size laboratory, they observed, analysed, mapped thousands of cyclists’ behavior.

They then went to Amsterdam, a city considered as a model for many urban planners, and in collaboration with The University of Amsterdam, Copenhagenize Design Co. worked on nine intersections and 19,500 bicycle users.

Watch the video here, and read the studies herehereherehere, and here.

Read More