Tag Archives: Landscape Architecture

The Necessity of Advocacy: Discussing the Politics of Landscape Architecture

The role of advocacy and political engagement  here espoused by ASLA in the USA is as needed in South Africa, where the demands and needs of the needy poor is sidelined by the greed of the avaricious in business and politics.
Posted by Jonathon Geels on Land8

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“When people think about what influences elected officials, nine times out of ten their first thought is money… Clearly, skepticism reigns supreme when it comes to our views of how to influence a policymaker.” – Stephanie Vance, “Citizens in Action”

Despite being “for the people, by the people,” our representative democracy can seem distant. It can appear inaccessible and elitist, particularly when sensationalized by the “yellow journalism” of contemporary news media. Lobbying, and by extension advocacy, further brings to mind a hidden element of governance. Because of that, they are both practically four letter words. While this presidential election cycle has brought to the forefront the concept of politicians being “bought” by powerful lobbies, simply viewing government as a trade deal undermines the value of advocacy and professional lobbying.

I attended my first ASLA Advocacy Summit with a similar perspective and with a far greater understanding of the concurrent Awareness Summit. At the same time, I approached the event both grateful for being there and committed to gleaming every ounce of value out of the experience for the chapter I represented*. Of the dual arms of chapter outreach, Awareness (Public Relations) is sexy and glam; who doesn’t want their picture on television? Advocacy, because of the distance of government, lacks the same initial luster. Even as I listened to a professional lobbyist describe the services that he offered the society, I still had misgivings. As he outlined case studies in landscape architecture licensure battles that had littered the ground of advocacy for the society in recent years, I was unconvinced. In a state that seemingly had a shield to any licensure attacks – Indiana has a combined board with the architects who were not likely to come under any sunset issues – it was hard to reconcile the cost of lobbying. Despite the need for vigilance, the issue of licensure did not have the same sense of urgency in my state as with other chapters. Without the urgency, advocacy remained a back-burner issue, especially compared to the draw of World Landscape Architecture Month or the need for continuing education credits and networking value of the state’s Annual Meeting.

As the presenter shifted to outline the tangent benefits of advocacy and lobbying, one line was burned into my mind: “Raising the profile of the profession.” That even without a specific “ask” or dramatic need, landscape architects would benefit from engaging policymakers if for no other reason than to make the profession more prominent in the eyes of those individuals who controlled much of the direction of the built environment through the allocation of funds or the implementation of guiding policies. This was a seminal moment for me and one that changed the way that I viewed professional practice. I began to see advocacy as a partner to awareness and public relations. At the same time, I began to view Government Affairs as the natural progression in the pursuit to work as a landscape architect. It’s a complicated feeling to watch the built environment evolve, knowing that your own involvement could improve the quality of place or positively contribute to changing public health, safety, and welfare. This was a moment of clarity, like Neo seeing the Matrix for the first time. Everything was different. I was already aware of the problems that plague the profession – lack of understanding, vague licensure laws, engineering bias; finding problems to solve is easy. Inherently, landscape architects also know that layering in solutions to the problems would produce systemic benefit. But it was through advocacy to local, state, and federal policymakers that landscape architects would have the opportunity to be a constant part of the conversation. Through better advocacy, landscape architecture can become a baseline expectation, not just an add-on or luxury component or easy to value-engineer out.

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Has Landscape Architecture Failed? Reflections on the Occasion of LAF’s 50th Anniversary

By Richard Weller and Billy Fleming, University of Pennsylvania on LAF Blog

In 1966, Campbell Miller, Grady Clay, Ian McHarg, Charles Hammond, George Patton and John Simonds marched to the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia and declared that an age of environmental crisis was upon us and that the profession of landscape architecture was a key to solving it. Their Declaration of Concern launched, and to this day underpins the workings of, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF).

To mark its 50th anniversary, LAF will hold a summit titled The New Landscape Declaration at the University of Pennsylvania involving over 65 leading landscape architects from around the world. Delegates are being asked to deliver new declarations (manifestos, if you will) about the profession’s future. Drawing upon these statements and the dialogue at the summit, LAF will then redraft the original 1966 Declaration of Concern so that it serves to guide the profession into the 21st century.

On one level, redrafting the declaration is relatively straightforward: it would simply need to stress the twinned global phenomena of climate change and global urbanization — issues that were less well understood in 1966. On another level however, the redrafting of the declaration is profoundly complicated because if it is to be taken seriously, then a prerequisite is to ask why, after 50 years of asserting landscape architecture as “a key” to “solving the environmental crisis” does that crisis continue largely unabated? Seen in this light the declaration can be read as an admission of failure. Consequently, we must ask:

If McHarg and his colleagues were justified in placing such a tremendous responsibility on the shoulders of landscape architects, why have we failed so spectacularly to live up to their challenge?

In our defense, we might argue that landscape architecture is a very young and very small profession and an even smaller academy. We can also protest, as many do, that other more established disciplines — such as engineering and architecture — have restrained our rise to environmental leadership. We can argue that the status quo of political decision-making makes it impossible for us to meaningfully scale up our operations and work in the territory where our services are needed most. These justifications (or excuses) all contain aspects of the truth, but we argue that landscape architecture over the last 50 years is less a story of abject failure and more one of a discipline taking the time that has been needed to prepare for a more significant role in this, the 21st century.

From the last 50 years of landscape architecture we have three models of professional identity and scope: the landscape architect as artist (for example, Peter Walker), the landscape architect as regional planner (for example, Ian McHarg), and the landscape architect as urban designer (for example, Charles Waldheim). Rather than see these as competing models cancelling each other out, perhaps what we have really learned from the last 50 years is that each is somewhat incomplete without the other. If however we make a concerted effort to combine these three models, then perhaps we begin to really give credence to the notion of landscape architecture as a uniquely holistic discipline, one especially well-suited to engage with the contemporary landscape of planetary urbanization and climate change.

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Redesigned Survey Reveals Latest Residential Landscape Design Trends | asla.org

The current trends in American residential landscapes by registered Landscape Architects make some interesting reading, if these indeed reflect he concerns of the affluent segment of ht population that own homes and can afford to hire Landscape Architects to design their gardens via Redesigned Survey Reveals Latest Residential Landscape Design Trends | asla.org. In this regard one wonders what perceptions are being met in terms of sustainability with the list of features in the second list, these are all high consumerist items to my mind, as is the idea of individually landscaped residential erven?I.e on hose one large ticket residential consumer loan!

Sustainability, low-maintenance design elements rated most desirable
3/24/2015
Sustainable and low-maintenance design are the top trends for residential landscape projects, according to the 2015 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

Vineyard Retreat

Landscape architects were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements in 2015. The survey was fielded February 13 through February 27, 2015, with 581 responding. ASLA redesigned the survey for 2015 and introduced a new methodology to more clearly rank the popularity of different types of landscape projects.

Here are the top ten project types with the expected highest consumer demand:

  • Native plants (85 percent)
  • Native/adapted drought-tolerant plants (83 percent)
  • Food/vegetable gardens (79 percent)
  • Fire pits/fireplaces (78 percent)
  • Low-maintenance landscapes (78 percent)
  • Permeable paving (77 percent)
  • Drip/water-efficient irrigation (74 percent)
  • Rain gardens (74 percent)
  • Lighting (72 percent)
  • Rainwater/graywater harvesting (71 percent)

“Consumers care about designed landscapes that are attractive, easy to take care of and eco-friendly,” says Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA. “The survey shows that homeowners increasingly see opportunities to improve the environment right in their own backyard.”

The survey asked landscape architecture professionals about the estimated popularity of various residential design elements for 2015. The survey was fielded February 13 through February 27, 2015, with 581 responding. ASLA redesigned the survey for 2015 and introduced a new methodology to more clearly rank the popularity of different types of landscape projects.

The top three most popular outdoor design elements include fire pits/fireplaces (78 percent), lighting (72 percent) and grills (63 percent). The top landscape and garden elements include native plants (85 percent), food and vegetable gardens (79 percent) and low-maintenance landscapes (78 percent). Pergolas (51 percent), decks (45 percent) and fencing (42 percent) are expected to be the most popular outdoor structures.

The hottest sustainable design elements include native/adapted drought-tolerant plants (83 percent), permeable paving (77 percent) and drip/water-efficient irrigation (74 percent).

Forty percent of respondents noted that the most popular outdoor recreation amenities for 2015 will include spa features—hot tubs, Jacuzzis, whirlpools, and indoor/outdoor saunas—and swimming pools.

For more landscape ideas for your home, and to find a professional in your area, visit www.asla.org/residentialinfo.

High-res photos of residential projects that have won ASLA awards are available for media only. Contact Karen Grajales at ktgrajales@asla.org or (202) 216-2371.

Outdoor Design Elements

Ranked in expected order of popularity for 2015

Fire pits/fireplaces – 78.0%
Lighting – 72.0%
Grills – 63.0%
Outdoor furniture – 63.0%
Seating/dining areas – 63.0%
Wireless/internet connectivity – 60.0%
Planters, sculptures, garden accessories – 55.0%
Counter space – 53.0%
Outdoor heaters – 46.0%
Stereo systems – 45.0%
Movie/TV/video theaters – 38.0%
Utility storage – 38.0%
Sinks – 37.0%
Refrigerators – 35.0%
Outdoor cooling systems (including fans) – 29.0%
Showers/baths – 27.0%
Hammocks – 20.0%
Bedrooms/sleeping spaces – 9.0%

Outdoor Recreation Amenities

Ranked in expected order of popularity for 2015

Spa features (hot tubs, Jacuzzis, whirlpools, indoor/outdoor saunas) – 40.0%
Swimming pools – 40.0%
Sports courts (tennis, bocce, etc.) – 36.0%

Landscape/Garden Elements

Ranked in expected order of popularity for 2015

Native plants – 85.0%
Food/vegetable gardens (including orchards, vineyards, etc.) – 79.0%
Low-maintenance landscapes – 78.0%
Rain gardens – 74.0%
Water-saving xeriscape or dry gardens – 71.0%
Organic gardens – 68.0%
Plant walls/vertical gardens – 61.0%
Decorative water elements (ornamental pools, fountains, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels or bubblers) – 57.0%
Rooftop gardens – 56.0%
Ponds/streams – 33.0%

Outdoor Structures

Ranked in expected order of popularity for 2015

Pergolas – 51.0%
Decks – 45.0%
Fencing – 42.0%
Arbors – 41.0%
Porches – 38.0%
ADA accessible structures (ramps, bars, shelving, etc.) – 31.0%
Pavilions – 31.0%
Utility sheds (tool sheds, garden sheds) – 29.0%
Play structures (treehouses, swing sets, etc.) – 25.0%
Gazebos – 19.0%

Sustainable Elements

Ranked in expected order of popularity for 2015

Native/adapted drought tolerant plants – 83.0%
Permeable paving – 77.0%
Drip/water-efficient irrigation – 74.0%
Rainwater/graywater harvesting – 71.0%
Reduced lawn area – 69.0%
Recycled materials – 65.0%
Solar-powered lights – 55.0%
Compost bins – 51.0%
Geothermal heated pools – 21.0%

Image: ASLA 2014 Honor Award. Vineyard Retreat by Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture. Photo: Matthew Millman Photography

About the American Society of Landscape Architects

Founded in 1899, ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects, representing more than 15,000 members in 49 professional chapters and 72 student chapters. Members of the Society use “ASLA” after their names to denote membership and their commitment to the highest ethical standards of the profession. Landscape architects lead the stewardship, planning, and design of our built and natural environments; the Society’s mission is to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education, and fellowship.

Ecology and Design: Parallel Genealogies

In this essay in Design Observer, adapted from “Ecology and Design: Parallel Genealogies” in  Projective Ecologies, edited by Chris Reed and Nina-Marie Lister, to be published this month by Actar and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the authors revue the changing values attached to the term ‘ecology’, its history and impact on landscape and urban design and point to how these might be the focus of applied research and practice in the future.


Andrea Hansen, Tokyo Bay Marine Fields, 2009. Click image to enlarge.

The past two decades have witnessed a resurgence of ecological ideas and ecological thinking in discussions of urbanism, society, culture and design. In science, the field of ecology has moved away from classical determinism and a reductionist Newtonian concern with stability, certainty and order, in favor of more contemporary understandings of dynamic systemic change and the related phenomena of adaptability, resilience and flexibility. Increasingly these concepts are seen as useful heuristics for decision-making in many fields, and as models or metaphors for cultural production, particularly in the design arts. This places landscape architecture in a unique disciplinary and practical space — informed by ecological knowledge as an applied science, as a construct for managing change, and as a model of cultural production or design. 

Ecology is, by definition, a transdisciplinary science focused on the relationship between living organisms and their environments. A relatively new science, its modern roots emerged in the early 20th century with the work of Frederic Clements and Henry Gleason, American botanists who studied the interactions between plant communities, and Sir Arthur Tansley, a British botanist and zoologist whose research on the interactions between plant and animal communities and the environment led him to coin the term “ecosystem” in 1935. [1] The interdisciplinary work of these pioneers prompted the development of models of ecological succession that dominated plant biology during the early 20th century and became the basis for the new integrated science of plants, animals and the environment eventually known as ecosystem ecology. 

The implications of this developing work were not limited to the natural sciences; in fact, popularization of these emerging world views was manifest in more widely read writings in the humanities and reverberated in other fields as well, including large-scale project management, governance and planning. Complex adaptive systems thinking made its way into the design arts as landscape was being rediscovered as both model and medium for design, and the environmental movement was becoming mainstream. 

Today “ecology” has been co-opted to refer to almost any set of generalized ideas about environment or process, rendering the term essentially meaningless. To recover a critical sense of ecology as a specific set of ideas that can continue to inform design thinking and practice, we start by identifying three important and parallel genealogies of ecology: in the natural sciences, the humanities and design.

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Rehabilitating Africa

From Design Indaba:  a proposed project – this might be a candidate for the very problem that was discussed earlier here of Gentrification but the need in African Cites is undeniable and many of them are so run down that they are in desperate need of development with the incredible growth of these cites projects like this are bound to happen:

Issa Diabaté has launched a project that seeks to rehabilitate a district of Abidjan, Ivory Coast to create a city that is economically and socially viable.

The Cocody Bay Landscaping Project by Issa Diabaté.

The Cocody Bay Landscaping Project by Issa Diabaté.

“Designing with a broad vision makes things possible”, said Issa Diabaté atDesign Indaba Conference 2014, while presenting his groundbreaking urban planning endeavour The Cocody Bay Landscaping Project.

The Cocody Bay Landscaping Project is an urban planning and architecture project designed for the rehabilitation of the lagoon bay area located in the centre of the city of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

The issue for the Ivory Coast is the lack of vision for urban planning, says Diabaté.

Diabaté’s firm Koffi & Diabaté Architects was commissioned by the District of Abidjan in an effort to rehabilitate an area, which has suffered from major degradation over the past 20 years due to sewage problems that affected the landscape on a grand scale.

Beyond just rehabilitation the project aims to establish a positive and long-lasting impact on the city by developing a new leisure and economic centre in the heart of the town. As such, in an effort to incorporate both environmental and social needs, along with the rehabilitation of the bay, an integral part of the project is the design of major green and leisurely spaces for city dwellers in the form of boardwalks a d various entertainment areas.

The Cocody Bay Landscaping Project also involves the development of a “smart city” incorporating notions of urban planning for social mobility. With this in mind, Diabaté will create a new residential and commercial area in the hope of fostering a rise in employment and future economic viability for the city.

The project is due for launch this year and is estimated to take between five and ten years to complete. 

 

The Cocody Bay Landscaping Project was showcased as part of Design Indaba Expo’s Africa is Now exhibition under the theme of “Africa is Urban”. The exhibition and theme in particular shrugged off the perception that Africa is largely rural and instead reveal how it is a engine for growth and opportunity in both challenges and possibilities present on the continent. 

Urbanism and the Landscape Architect

A thoughtful and seemingly realistic appraisal of the influence and position of Landscape Architects, although based in USA I think it would be fair to say that this would apply in many other places, definitely here in South Africa – it would be interesting to have others voice their opinion and views. I certainly agree with his views that the Landscape Urbanism formalism and rhetoric has caused more confusion and  hype than real results – I mean Landscape Urbanists never speak of the City in integral terms of people and built places and spaces – the actor-networks of humans and non-humans it is composed of, but only its green spaces! From Planitzen  by MARK HOUGH

Landscape architects are not given nearly enough recognition for being urbanists.

This is not because we don’t get enough work in cities but, rather, it is the types of projects we get or, more importantly, don’t get. We have always been the go-to designers for parks, waterfronts and streetscapes, but have had a tougher time finding seats at the table alongside (or instead of) planners and architects when broader planning decisions are being made. Because of this, we are usually forced to respond to change orchestrated by others rather than direct it ourselves. Exceptions to this certainly exist, but aside from landscape architects working as planners in public offices, there aren’t many.

I’m not whining. I’m just trying to establish a benchmark in relation to the more optimistic direction I see things headed. Urban design is changing, and it is changing fast. Due in large part to environmental and climatological crises that are translating directly into quality of life issues, cities are focused on their urban landscapes as perhaps never before. This is not groundbreaking news, and I’m not the first person tobring it up, but it is still a worthy discussion.

Urban landscape is a tricky term that is often misunderstood and incorrectly used by people who don’t really know what to do with it. Architects, for instance, whose preference for a top-down, figure-ground approach to urban design that lets buildings alone dictate urban form, relegates the landscape to a series of insertions fitting within the pattern of buildings. Planners, whose sensibilities are typically more in line with landscape architects, don’t really get it either. Their habit of treating landscape as generic green shapes on land use maps or as elements to standardize within form-based codes isn’t much better.

The problem with these approaches (both of which I, of course, grossly generalize) is that they address landscape as just one of many components that make up a larger urban whole, an additive piece that may be needed, but is not required to make things work. Landscape architects, on the other hand, don’t see it as a stand-alone thing; we understand that it is the underlying and unifying framework upon which everything is built. It is not about buildings and landscape, but buildings within landscape – an important distinction to recognize.

The urban landscape is essentially the overlay between a city’s natural systems – the water, trees, air quality, open space, and biodiversity – and its human systems – the sidewalks, bike lanes, fields, transit systems, infrastructure, etc. The two systems are intertwined to the point they are inseparable, and combine to make up what we commonly refer to as the public realm. Even if you disagree with my definition, it is hard to argue that the public realm is the main arena in which cities are competing against one another these days in order to attract rent-paying residents and businesses. The demand has been made very apparent in New York CityChicago,St. LouisLos Angeles, and many other cities, where parks and open spaces – not the skyscrapers – have become the main attractions.

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Kathryn Gustafson Receives Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture

A well deserved honour for one  of Landscape `Architectures great contemporary artists from Archinect

Winner of the 2012 Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture: Kathryn Gustafson

Winner of the 2012 Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture: Kathryn Gustafson

Kathryn Gustafson, director of Seattle landscape architecture practice Gustafson Guthrie Nichol and partner of London design firm Gustafson Porter, is the recipient of the annual Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This honor is given to a preeminent architect from any country who has made a significant contribution to architecture as an art. Gustafson is only the third landscape architect in 57 years to be awarded the prize. — bustler.net

Gustafson Guthrie Nichol: Lurie Garden, part of Millennium Park, in Chicago's historic Grant Park (Photo: Linda Oyama Bryan)

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Architype Review Focuses on Landscape Architecture (via The Dirt)

Publicity for Landscape Architecture is always welcome – some projects featured are over exposed and others I haven’t seen before – worth a look

Architype Review Focuses on Landscape Architecture Architype Review, a Web site created by designers for designers, focuses in on a different building type each month. Past issues have focused on train stations, museums, hotels, and schools. Within each type, the site tries to "honor those projects that are challenging the limits and redefining the norms." Now, Architype has zoomed in on landscape architecture, selecting a set of 16 landscape projects from around the world, along with a slideshow … Read More

via The Dirt

Sustainable Design Still Not Mainstream Among Design Professions (via The Dirt)

Not surprisingly considering the recession, entrenched ideas, commercial consumerism and bottom line thinking- Architects and other design professionals and developers and the public have not taken to sustainable practice as quickly as we would like to see – heres some info from the USA

Sustainable Design Still Not Mainstream Among Design Professions DesignIntelligence, publishers of market intelligence for the architecture and design industry and creators of annual school rankings, released their 2011 Green & Sustainable Design Survey, which argues that despite all the talk, "sustainable design practices are not yet in the mainstream of architecture and design." How is this possible? DesignIntelligence points to "inertia" along with "denial and resistance." According to James Cramer, edi … Read More

via The Dirt

Updated Guide: Climate Change and Landscape Architecture (via The Dirt)

Again it is necessary to take cognizance of all interventions and strategies that might assist in dealing with Climate Change, but how these ideas apply in African situations is yet to be seen

Updated Guide: Climate Change and Landscape Architecture A recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” According to the IPCC, average global temperatures are increasing at an alarming rate. In just the past 50 years, northern hemisphere temperatures were higher than during any other 50-year period in the last 500 years, perhaps even the past 1,300 years. The IPCC projects that the Earth’s surface temp … Read More

via The Dirt