The Foundations of Climate Change Inquiry

Jason King of Landscape+ Urbanism has written a great review and references for understanding the climate change fundamentals and I will be diving into this myself, although written for North American audience, he does reference international resources as well, for an African audience, this local book by Anton Cartwright and team from UCT’s African Centre for Cities is worth looking at Climate Change at the City Scale: Impacts, Mitigation and Adaptation in Cape Town   

In an attempt to be intentional and informed in tying landscape architecture to climate change and asking some of the fundamental questions I posed in my introductory post, I starting to develop a plan and amass a wide range of resources. Even now, I’ve barely scratched the surface, although this initial study has been illuminating, perhaps just in posing more questions. 

First, I wanted to focus on climate change mechanisms and impacts, of which there is not shortage of resources, covered in a combination of technical reports, books and articles. Second, I wanted to tap into many of the strategies from design and planning world, of which there is a steadily growing collection of articles and books, to address this in the context of solutions based in landscape architecture, architecture, and urban planning. Lastly, is the rich resource of academic journals and papers that connect the issues and approaches with a layer of evidence to further inform potential solutions. In this initial post I will focus on the first, and relate some of the initial experiences.

Climate Change Reports

One impetus for my recent obsession was the release (to much fanfare) over the Thanksgiving weekend of Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). This report gives a detailed account of the “Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States.” Authored by an army of experts, and published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program this is the de facto standard for US Climate Science and has helped transform and amplify discussions.

Climate impact lingo

Because the IPCC’s work is so central to global scientific understand, it is helpful to get acquainted with the particular communications style of the IPCC… [it] forms a common language across fields and thus encourages interdisciplinary understanding.”Hamin-Infield, Abunnaser, & Ryan (eds), 2019 p.10

Read more…

ASLA Drawing Resource

An amazing combined Landscape Architecture information and drawing excercise resource from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)  reposted from  The Dirt 

The ASLA Discover Landscape Architecture Activity Books are for anyone interested in landscape architecture, architecture, planning, and engineering, and for those who like to draw, doodle, and be inspired. The books’ primary focus is landscape architecture, giving readers the opportunity to see the many drawings, places, and landscapes created by landscape architects.

Download Activity Book for Kids

Take a journey across an imaginary town to learn about the building blocks of landscape architecture. In this activity book, you will learn about landscape architecture, see sketches from landscape architecture professionals, and have the opportunity to sketch and color drawings. This book is geared towards readers 9-12 years old.

Drawing by Jim Richard, FASLA / ASLA
Drawing by Michael Batts, ASLA / ASLA

Download Activity Book for Teens & Adults

Take a journey across the United States to see some of the great places designed by landscape architects. In this activity book, you will learn about landscape architecture, see sketches from landscape architecture professionals, have the opportunity to sketch and color drawings, and problem solve to plan your own projects. This book is geared towards readers 13 years and older.

Drawing by Yifu Kang, Student ASLA
Drawing by Robert Chipman, ASLA / ASLA

Share the Books!

Do you have a friend that is interested in landscape architecture? Do your children like the idea of blending art with the environment? Are you a landscape architecture professional visiting a local school and searching for a fun interactive exercise?

Whether you are a kid, teen, parent, teacher, undergraduate student, or landscape architecture professional, there are many ways to share the activity books. To start, share with family, friends, classmates, neighbors, other professionals, and community members.

And don’t forget to share your work. Post your drawings with #ASLAactivitybooks to show the world your creative talents! Stay tuned for future initiatives at ASLA including available copies for distribution and Spanish translated editions.

Design from a Digital Device

Landscape architects create drawings on paper and on digital devices. If you are interested to complete the activity books from your digital device, check out some of the free apps and programs below that include drawing tools.

Adobe Sketch
iBooks
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Microsoft OneNote

This post is by Shawn Balon, ASLA, Career Discovery and Diversity Manager at the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

Charles Eames’ Advice for Students

Like many others I love the Eames’ chairs and own a couple of copies (unfortunately I have not committed to paying the price of the originals) – their iconic designs and the ethos of their work  is inspirational – here is a new book and an excerpt of their advice for designers from ARCHDAILY 

Charles & Ray Eames

he forthcoming An Eames Anthology, edited by Daniel Ostroff and published by Yale University Press, chronicles the careers of Ray and  in their pursuits as designers, architects, teachers, artists, filmmakers, and writers. As Ostroff attests, with over 130,000 documents archived in the Library of Congress, the Eameses were nothing if not prolific; this volume, accordingly, is not comprehensive so much as representative, curated to reflect the breadth of interests and accomplishments of the pair.

In preparation for a 1949 lecture at the University of California, Los Angeles on “Advice for Students,” Charles made the following notes on inspiration, methodology, and career strategy. They are excerpted here from An Eames Anthology:

Make a list of books
Develop a curiosity
Look at things as though for the first time
Think of things in relation to each other
Always think of the next larger thing
Avoid the “pat” answer—the formula
Avoid the preconceived idea
Study well objects made past recent and ancient but never without the technological and social conditions responsible
Prepare yourself to search out the true need—physical, psychological
Prepare yourself to intelligently fill that need

The art is not something you apply to your work
The art is the way you do your work, a result of your attitude toward it

Design is a full time job
It is the way you look at politics, funny papers, listen to music, raise children
Art is not a thing in a vacuum—
No personal signature
Economy of material
Avoid the contrived

Apprentice system and why it is impractical for them
No office wants to add another prima donna to its staff
No office is looking for a great creative genius
No office—or at least very few—can train employees from scratch
There is always a need for anyone that can do a simple job thoroughly

There are things you can do to prepare yourself—to be desirable
orderly work habits
ability to bring any job to a conclusion
drawing feasibility
lettering
a presentation that “reads” well
willingness to do outside work and study on a problem . . .

Primitive spear is not the work of an individual nor is a good tool or utensil.
To be a good designer you must be a good engineer in every sense: curious, inquisitive.
I am interested in course because I have great faith in the engineer, but to those who are serious
(avoid putting on art hat) Boulder Dam all’s great not due engineer
By the nature of his problems the engineer has high percentage of known factors relatively little left to intuition
(the chemical engineer asking if he should call in Sulphur)

Source: Charles Eames, handwritten notes on talks at University of California, Los Angeles, January 1949, Part II: Speeches and Writings series, Charles and Ray Eames Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C

Are e-books bad for long-term memory?

Some research to let you rethink – should you throw out all those books that are cluttering up your  post-modern minimalist space yet – your “pad” – once hip before it acquired  an “i-” and “kindle” was something you did to a fire. From Smart Planet by Amy Kraft

As the world becomes more and more digital, Kindles and Nooks are replacing classroom textbooks as learning aids. But new research shows that students should hold onto their hardcovers if they want to remember what they read.

Studies show that people have a harder time remembering facts and recalling the names of characters and details when reading an e-book. Researchers think this has to do with the way we evolved to remember things.

In one study by Kate Garland, a psychology lecturer at the University of Leicester in England, participants got a crash course in economics–a subject nobody understood. Those who were instructed to learn on an e-book required more repetition of the information before they could retain it. Participants learning on a hard book were able to understand the material more fully, meaning they were able to know the material so well that it just came to them.

Researchers think the problem with e-books could have to do with the lack of physical landmarks or associations that a person’s memory can use to help recall information. After all, it is just a blank screen with words that you read down. There is no right or left side of the page and some e-books don’t even have page numbers.

A recent article in Time magazine reports, “This seems irrelevant at first, but spatial context may be particularly important because evolution may have shaped the mind to easily recall location cues so we can find our way around. That’s why great memorizers since antiquity have used a trick called the ‘method of loci’ to associate facts they want to remember with places in spaces they already know, like rooms in their childhood home.”

Other studies by Jakob Nielsen, Web usability consultant and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group, show that smaller screens make reading material less memorable and typing or scrolling back to search for something is more distracting than turning the page. Nielsen told Time magazine: “Human short-term memory is extremely volatile and weak. That’s why there’s a huge benefit from being able to glance [across a page or two] and see [everything] simultaneously.”

Further studies are needed to show the types of learning material best suited for digital books. But it does make me wonder if an e-book called Improve Your Memory actually works

Your Garden Matters

Having been a Horticulturist by trade and having grown up in a family of garden designers and nurserymen, being a passionate plant collector ad  gardener myself,  I am heartened to see the ‘lowly’ garden lauded as part of the solution to sustainability of cities , by asladirt 

The New American Landscape: Leading Voices on the Future of Sustainable Gardening“ argues that making home gardening practices more sustainable is instrumental to tackling global warming, pollution, habitat loss, water shortages, and diminishing biodiversity. As editor Thomas Christopher explains in the introduction, yard and garden equipment ”fugitive dust” accounts for about 5 percent of our nation’s air pollution. Additionally, the use of invasive non-native plant species causes a range of costly problems. Municipalities in Florida have spent $250 million over 30 years in an effort to control invasive, exotic plants.

Instead of exacerbating these issues, gardeners must harness the many ecosystem services provided by natural systems and design gardens that support and strengthen local ecologies. This how-to guide clearly demonstrates how gardeners’ sustainable practices can positively shape our shared enviroment.

Plant pathologist and botanist David Deardoff and naturalist Kathryn Wadsworthoutline a nine-point program in “Sustainable Solutions” so that an “artificially constructed community of strangers we call a garden soon begins to form a community of organisms we call an ecosystem.” Continue reading

Book Review: Jo’burg for secret agents

Paul Ash of TImes Live reviews Gerald Garner’s book Space & Places Johannesburg; this is an account of a passionate lover of the city and an ardent supporter of it’s regeneration.

While you were sleeping, somebody chopped down the Top Star drive-in screen. Can you believe it? Somebody also took the mine headgear at City Deep with its orange winding wheels – it was one of Johannesburg’s nicer landmarks, which you would see from the M2 highway. The big mine dump at Cleveland has also gone, carried off in trucks for reprocessing to extract the gold left behind the first time.

I noticed all this driving out to Rand Airport in December. Whole pieces of the city’s skyline – which meant a lot to some of us – have disappeared in the night.

Gerald Garner’s book, Spaces & Places Johannesburg, has landed at just the right time. Garner, a landscape architect, says he felt compelled to write a guidebook to the city’s “hidden gems” after a French journalist, here for the World Cup and marooned at some soulless hotel out in the boonies, came looking for a guide.

As Garner rightly observes, Jo’burg is a city tripped-up by other people’s misconceptions and night terrors. We who live here have our own stories and no-go zones – and not all of them are right, either.

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The Architectural Monograph: A Defense

In the light of my starting a book list and reviews in the Resources Toolkit, it is appropriate to examine what the role of these often expensive and weighty tombs is, though pitched at  Architectural books  the same applies to any design field today from fashion, product design to landscape and urbanism,  so here Mark Lamster sets out to do so – from  PLACES:

Monographs from the library of Della Valle Bernheimer, Architects. [Photo: Andrew Bernheimer]

What is the future of the architectural monograph? In a provocative column forArchitectural Record, Martin Filler laments what he describes as the “steady devaluation” of the format, to the point where such volumes have become “little more than glossy hardcover promotional brochures to entice an uninformed and impressionable lay clientele.” Per his argument, monographs are plagued by sycophantic commentary, this attributable to the fact that so many are subsidized by their subjects. He reports that publishers are cutting back on monographs, given the difficult economics of the format (and the literary marketplace in general), and contrasts today’s vanity projects with the landmarks of earlier generations — Le Corbusier’s Oeuvre Complete, James Stirling’sBuildings and Projects, Rem Koolhaas’s S,M,LX,L — the conclusion being that it will take a similar “once-in-a-generation architectural prodigy” to remake the format into something relevant once again.

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