On the value(s) of gardeners

Having been involved over the last 10 days in a green industry and City of Cape Town consultation on “Alternatives for watering of gardens and landscapes” as a response to the water crisis in Cape Town over the last three years; a nationally convened crisis meeting with Institute of Landscape Architects of South Africa (ILASA) and the representatives of the green industry to discuss responses to the decision by the University of Pretoria to close the BSc Landscape Architecture undergraduate degree that has been running successfully for more than 30 years, due to poor uptake of students for this degree; a two day Co-Create Design Festival in Cape Towns V&A waterfront focusing on urban regeneration and resilience and last night I attended an APES presentation and a discussion by Stephen Granger who is the Manager of Major Projects and Landscape Architect Ancunel Steyn both of the City of Cape Town on “Focus On Preserving & Managing Environmental Resources Plus Important Public Open Spaces Under Increasing Development Pressure”  

Both these presenters, who are experienced and highly qualified professionals, highlighted the value of urban natural environments and the problems of establishing, managing and preserving these fragile but valuable spaces.

All of these functions that I attended seemed to me to have a clear thread that highlighted for me, in many ways, the lack of a clear understanding, on the part of most professional participants, and even more so the “public,” of the value of the urban living environment for the sustenance, resilience and survival of its inhabitants. This goes hand in hand with the low value our society seems to place on the individuals and professions that are engaged in establishing, protecting and managing these vital components of the urban fabric. This is so, despite all the green hype of business, sustainability buzzwords in the media, ecological services valuation studies, and climate change attention given by politicians and environmental activists; The people on the ground who have the knowledge skills, experience and passion to provide these services are not afforded the status or remuneration by our society – this similar to the poor pay and conditions of service of other industries providing basic and vital services to society such as nurses and police.

This post on The Plant Hunter by Georgina Reid has a similar story to tell of the problem in Australia and the rest of the world

Where’s a Gardener When you Need One?

As a high school student I had no idea what I wanted to be when I ‘grew up’. When I did a careers quiz as a 16-year-old and it suggested I become florist, I was offended. If it were suggested I become a gardener, I would have been equally as offended. A combination of ignorance and ego and a culture intent on de-valuing work that actually matters, meant I thought I could do better.

Even in my early days of being a landscape designer (I came to plants as a mature age student, after dumping my ideas of what constituted a sensible/smart career) I never called myself a gardener, and would get quietly offended when people introduced me as one. I am ashamed of this now. ‘Gardener’ is a title I both own and aspire to in equal measures.

My experience, as embarrassingly outlined above, illustrates an issue more profound than personal. It describes a crisis of perception with increasingly vast social and environmental impacts. Gardening, and it’s slightly more serious sounding sister, horticulture, is rarely seen as a valued, intelligent or financially rewarding career pathway. Gardening is a hobby, not a vocation. Gardening is un-thinking, un-skilled manual labour.

When viewed in this way, what 18-year-old in their right mind would choose to become a gardener, to study horticulture? What career adviser or parent would suggest taking on a career that won’t earn much money, offers little social status, and involves bloody hard work?

On the flip side (which is, of course, where I sit), what other career is there that’s more important than caring for and sustaining the land we live upon and the lives that exist in relation to it? When our existence as a species is drilled down to hard truths, there’s few things more important than growing and caring – the twin roles of the gardener.

Yet truths don’t seem to fly these days. As our climate gets hotter, wetter, drier, wilder; as our dialogue with each other and the natural world becomes confused and disjointed; knowing the world, the actual real world, is strangely devalued. Horticulture, the science of growing and caring for plants, is rarely found in Australian universities anymore. In a paper titled The Workforce Challenge in Horticulture, Professor Jim Pratley states that in 2010 there were fewer than 80 graduates in horticulture from Australian universities. This has halved since the 1980s.

The experience of Daniel Ewings, national Operations manager at Andreasens Green Wholesale Nurseries, Sydney echoes the decline in formal horticulture study. He’s found it increasingly difficult to recruit apprentices over the last 10 years. “School leavers these days seem to want to go into a less hands on field than horticulture.” And if they do want hands-on, there’s other issues: “Trades like carpentry offer much higher rates of pay. So if you want to work with your hands, outdoors, there’s better paying options than plants.”

For Daniel, working in a plant nursery is a starting point for a wide range of careers in horticulture like further study in landscape architecture or design, managing garden maintenance teams for councils, owning a nursery business, and more. And the money, well, it comes too. “Horticulture starts off with low pay. But if you’re really good at it, and if you love it, you’ll end up making money”, Daniel says.

The horticulture industry is facing a skills shortage, according to Daniel. “We really need to try and lift our game on recruitment. We need to try and find ways to attract young people to the industry”.

On one hand, there’s less people choosing horticulture as a career, and on the other, the importance of the job has never been greater. City planners and councils are realising the importance of ‘green infrastructure’, as they call it, and are creating policies around it. Our future cities need to be integrated ecologies. They need trees, gardens, green roofs, wetlands, urban forests, parks and farms. “But how do we tend to this proposed nature in our cities?” asks Thomas Gooch, a Melbourne based landscape architect and one of the trustees of the newly launched Global Gardening Trust. “Typical maintenance regimes won’t cut it. Positioning gardening as infrastructure to tend these proposed natural systems in our cities is a really important investment.”

https://za.pinterest.com/BioAg/

Highlighting the value of gardening as infrastructure in a changing climate is one of the premises of the Global Gardening Trust. Founded by a group of young, passionate professionals connected to the gardening world, the trust is currently offering a three-month internship at De Wiersse – a historic 38-acre garden in the Netherlands. “This program begins to support and learn from established gardens like De Wiersse”, Thomas says. “Things like succession planting, gardening with the rhythms of plants and seasonality.” The heaving, growing and transformative nature our cities need, and are thankfully moving towards, needs to be gardened not maintained. There’s a difference.

“There is a clear distinction between gardening and maintenance. Maintenance is about doing as little as you need to keep it green – creating a bullet proof minimum viable product. Gardening is about investing time and materials into planting, managing plant and soil health, pruning over time, giving plants space to flower. That difference is where we’re positioning the trust”, Thomas says.

“If you invest in humans as gardeners to care for landscapes, you’re going to get richer plant diversity, more pollen stocks and stronger insect health. We’ll have landscapes that are more adaptable to changes in climate because we’ll understand the rhythms and patterns of nature.”

The Global Gardening Trust puts great value on the role of the gardener to create and sustain beauty and create and sustain life. “The Trust is not about falling into a romantic narrative, it’s about valuing the rhythms of nature and giving that a profession. It means hard work, discipline, turning up and doing it beautifully,” says Thomas. Romance is a good thing and certainly a driver for many in the garden, but it’s only the beginning. “Putting a value on gardening can put a value on where we’re heading. A society that values plants and systems, and that is integrated with nature is a clever society – one that supports all life, not destroys it.”

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THE SHAPE OF WATER

From Jason King’s Landscape+Urbanism site

 

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“Rendering of Houston wetland channel showing ecological wetland, conservation areas, and recreation trails” p. 90-91

An amazing resource posted on ASLA’s The Dirt (here) focuses on Design Guidelines for Urban Wetlands, specifically what shapes are optimal for performance. Using simulations and physical testing to investigate hydraulic performance the team from the Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU) at MIT. Led by Heidi Nepf, Alan Berger and Celina Balderas Guzman along with a team including Tyler Swingle, Waishan Qiu, Manoel Xavier, Samantha Cohen, and Jonah Susskind, the project aims to have a practice application in design guidance informed by research. From their site:js_plan_typical-01

“Although constructed wetlands and detention basins have been built for stormwater management for a long time, their design has been largely driven by hydrologic performance. Bringing together fluid dynamics, landscape architecture, and urban planning, this research project explored how these natural treatment systems can be designed as multi-functional urban infrastructure to manage flooding, improve water quality, enhance biodiversity, and create amenities in cities.”
Starting in the beginning by outlining ‘The Stormwater Imperative’, the above goal is explained in more depth, and issues with how we’ve tackled these problems are also discussed, such as civil-focused problem solving or lack of scalability, but also explore the potential for how, through intentional design, these systems “can create novel urban ecosystems that offer recreation, aesthetic, and ecological benefits.” (1)

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The evolution that has resulted in destruction of wetlands through urbanization, coupled with deficient infrastructure leads to issues like flooding, water pollution due to the loss of the natural holding and filtering capacity of these systems and the increased flows. However, as pointed out by the authors, this can be an opportunity, as constructed wetlands “can partially restore some lost ecosystem services, especially in locations where wetlands do not currently exist.” (5)

The modeled flow patterns are also interesting, showing the differentiation from fast, regular, slow flows, along with any Eddy’s that were shown in dye testing using the flumes.

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Check it out and see what you think.  The report is available as a online version via ISSUU or via PDF download from the LCAU site, where there are also some additional resources.  All images in this post are from these reports and should be credited to the LCAU team.

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Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center Opens to the Public

A deeply embedded building which fits it s site and use  from and innovative pair of architects who see buildings, landscapes and infrastructure as serving people via arch daily

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

Accompanied by Mayor Bloomberg yesterday in an early morning ribbon cutting, New York City-based practice Weiss/Manfredi celebrated the grand opening of the new Botanic Garden Visitor Center. Embedded into an existing hillside at the Garden’s northeast corner, the sinuous glass building appears as a seamless extension to the existing topography as it leads into the 52-acre garden. In addition, the $28-million Visitor Center incorporates numerous environmentally sustainable features—most notably a 10,000-square-foot living roof—that are aimed toward earning LEED Gold certification. The project has been recognized by the New York City Public Design Commission with an Award for Excellence in Design.

Continue reading after the break for the architects’ description.

   

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

The 20,000-square-foot Visitor Center was conceived as a new threshold between the city and Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBC) that transitions from an architectural presence at the street to a structured landscape within the Garden. The Visitor Center invites visitors from Washington Avenue into the Garden via a curved glass trellis before opening into major garden precincts like the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and Cherry Esplanade.

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

The primary entry from Washington Avenue is visible from the street; an additional entry from the elevated Overlook and Ginkgo Allée at the top of the berm bisects the Visitor Center, revealing framed views of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, and descends through a stepped ramp to the main level of the Garden.

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

The curved glass walls of the Visitor Center offer veiled views into the Garden, their fritted glass filtering light and deterring bird strikes. In contrast to the southern face of the building, the north side is built into a preexisting berm, which increases thermal efficiency. Its clerestory glazing—along with the fritted glass on the south walls— minimizes heat gain and maximizes natural illumination. A geoexchange system heats and cools the interior spaces, and a series of rain gardens collect and filter runoff to improve storm-water management.

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

The leaf-shaped living roof hosts over 40,000 plants—grasses, spring bulbs, and perennial wildflowers—adding a new experimental landscape to the Garden’s collection.

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

The green roof will change throughout the year, literally transforming the nature of the architecture each season. The Washington Avenue side of the building features a pleated copper roof that echoes the Garden’s landmarked 1917 McKim, Mead & White Administration Building and will ultimately weather to green.

Nearly 60,000 plants were installed around the Visitor Center, including cherry, magnolia, and tupelo trees; viburnums; native roses; and three rain gardens full of water-loving plants. In combination with the green roof, this ambitious installation seamlessly weaves the Visitor Center into the green tapestry of the Garden.

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Sasaki Associates, with RDG and AES, Wins Water Works Parkitecture Competition

From Bustler :  a review of a project reintegrating people, water and nature which is both educational and engaging – funky use of fashionable stand up paddle boards and  representation which is viewed as if we are navigating the brochure and looking out on the scene must have played apart in winning over the judges:

Des Moines Water Works, working in partnership with Iowa State University Department of Landscape Architecture, recently announced that Sasaki Associates, with RDG Planning & Design and Applied Ecological Services (AES), is the winning team of the Water Works Parkitecture Competition.

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

The Parkitecture competition, aptly named for its emphasis on the fundamental role landscape architecture and design play in re-envisioning Water Works Park, began June 2011.  The international design competition entailed the creation of a conceptual plan for Water Works Park to form dynamic relationships between the river, the watershed, and the community.The competition sought proposals to integrate the ecological and social function of a park and river into a unified landscape; to inspire the community and to generate discussion about watershed issues/best practices; and offer innovative design solutions to address ecological and recreational challenges specific to Water Works Park.

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

The design team and Des Moines Water Works will begin a concept validation process which will address specific issues and include public outreach. It is expected that a majority of the funds for implementation of the vision plan will be obtained through private fundraising and will not be borne by water rate payers.

Throughout the design process, the design team interviewed citizens, community leaders, focus groups, and stakeholders, and will continue engaging the public throughout the master plan and implementation process of the park

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

Sasaki collaborated with Des Moines-based RDG Planning & Design and Minneapolis-based Applied Ecological Services on the competition entry and will continue to do so through implementation. Collectively, the team proffers progressive design strategy, creative vision, acute regional understanding, and technical prowess.

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Urban Prairie | Gatineau Canada | Claude Cormier + Associés with Aedifica

From World Landscape Architecture beautiful contours and flowing forms of an urban prairie created in an oversized courtyard, with its acknowledgements of the seasons and indigenous plantings it creates an area of openness with local enclosure in benches and seats – moderately urban -yet wilder, like the works of SWA in Denmark it reflects the needs of wildness and nature in dense urban environments – quite at odds with the  pure pragmatics of later day urban-“isms” striving to replicate the scale and texture of traditional gridded cities.

By Damian Holmes

Canadian Museum of Civilization PlazaFall view from the Museum | ©Claude Cormier + Associés inc.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization, designed by Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal and inaugurated in 1989, is comprised of two pavilions, their architecture a startling embodiment of the country’s distinguishing geographical features. The public display wing replicates the dramatic effect of the glaciers; the contours of the curatorial wing symbolize the majestic Canadian Shield; and the open Plaza simulates the vast Great Plains. The layout and sheer size of the Plaza were planned in such a way as to visually incorporate the Museum buildings and the Parliament Buildings perched across the Ottawa River. However, the Plaza’s lack of appeal had left it empty of visitors for much of the year. To remedy the situation, we extended the Museum’s original conceptual metaphor, bringing to life what had long remained latent: the swaying grasses of the Prairies.

Canadian Museum of Civilization Plaza

1 Existing garden 2 Museum Building 3 Curatorial Wing 4 Plaza_Urban Prairie 5 Parliament Building view ©Claude Cormier + Associés inc.

Plantation colour in fall ©Claude Cormier + Associés inc.

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Winner of the Tianjin Samaranch Memorial Museum Competition

An collaboration between Architect,  Landscape Architects and Engineers yields an innovative and transparent  environment  celebrating the 2008 Olympics in form and features  from bustler 

Brooklyn/Copenhagen-based HAO / Holm Architecture Office in collaboration with Archiland BeijingKragh & Berglund landscape architects, and engineering consultants Cowi Beijing, has won first prize in a competition to design the Samaranch Memorial Museum in Tianjin, China.

Competition-winning design for the new Samaranch Memorial Museum in Tianjin, China

Click above image to view slideshow
Competition-winning design for the new Samaranch Memorial Museum in Tianjin, China

Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain was the president of the International Olympic Committee from 1980 to 2001. Throughout his presidency he advocated for reform and inclusion and was a strong supporter of China’s bid as host city for the 2008 Olympic Games. Tianjin, a city of over 12 million people in northwestern China near Beijing, was the site of several Olympic events. The new museum and memorial will both highlight Samaranch’s professional history and look to the future, offering space for rotating exhibits of contemporary art and culture.

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An infusion of commons thinking can transform how we plan the future

As we strive to engage with publics that are to use the facilities we design we often hear the frustration with this process from design professionals and authorities who are often accused of doing this in a routine fashion or that we hear eh same few people engages and we bear the brunt of minority lobbying groups or worse we are beset by cranks – how to make this necessary and esentail process more productive ? BY DAVID M. MOTZENBECKER, on LAND Reader:

“It began with a simple enough thought: “There aren’t nearly enough people here.”

David M. Motzenbecker; President, City Planning Commission at City of Minneapolis

On a fall afternoon in 2007, I was attending a public meeting held by the Minneapolis Planning Department to garner citizens’ input on their latest revision to the City’s Comprehensive Plan – The Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth. As President of the City Planning Commission, my charge is to stewardthe vision for the growth of the city as outlined in its comprehensive plan. One definition of stewardship is “a person using every talent and repeatedly sacrificing desires to do the right thing.” Wasteful actions or not doing everything possible to achieve a positive outcome is contradictory to notion of stewardship. It was the sensation of just going through the motions at this particular meeting, not really embracing the democratic notion of people shaping their own city, that struck me as wasteful. The attendance, comments, and results of meetings like this one led me to the conclusion that the planning commission wasn’t stewarding anything but the opinions of city staff and our own points of view. ”

Read the original articleon LAND Reader:

Tectonic Shift – RE-considering Landscape Architecture

The High Line, Manhattan.

By tackling some of the most daunting problems of the city, landscape architects are rising to new prominence.

PARTICIPANTS: Jill Desimini is an assistant professor in landscape architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She was previously a senior associate at Stoss in Boston. David Gamble AIA, AICP is an architect and urban designer and the principal ofGamble Associates in Boston. Shauna Gillies-Smith ASLA is a landscape architect and the principal of Ground in Somerville, Massachusetts. Wendi Goldsmith is the founder and CEO of Bioengineering Group in Salem, Massachusetts. She is a certified professional geologist with additional degrees in ecological landscape design and plant and soil science. Elizabeth Padjen FAIA is the editor of ArchitectureBostonLaura Solano ASLA is a landscape architect and a principal of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Studying Landscape Architecture In New England

by bsaab on ab – Interesting times indeed – are we ready to gain  our self respect back now?

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It’s a growing discipline, so to speak. Applications are up. Course offerings have exploded. A number of new programs have recently launched, or are about to. Is this just a fad, or is something more significant taking hold?

Sustainability, global warming, amplified environmental awareness — contemporary concerns may be prompting this increase, along with the building industry’s rising attention to a structure’s larger environment. In education as in the profession, landscape architecture is embracing the entire built world.

As in architecture, landscape architects in the US must hold a professional degree — a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) or a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) — from an accredited institution before taking registration exams. Many of these schools are consciously reconsidering what it means to educate landscape architects today, and retooling their programs dramatically.

In addition to the professional degree programs, there are many routes to serious study, including undergraduate liberal-arts minors, pre-professional programs, post-professional programs, and adult-ed night classes. Even institutions that don’t offer landscape “programs” — such as MIT, Wentworth, Mass College of Art and Design, and Connecticut College — are offering new landscape classes as well as expanded interdisciplinary courses on related topics like environmental justice or public horticulture.

It’s a lively time to be in school. Continue reading

Carbon emissions & spatial connections (via The power of the network)

The extension of Space Syntax’s methodology within this presentation from Tim Stonor, especially in regards to Beijing highlighting the role of green open space is noteworthy , I am still unsure whether this adequately addresses the problems of the cities footprint – does the model proposed leverage enough possibilities with regards to water and energy – or are these assumed to be addressed by the disciplines who build the infrastructure and buildings, as a matter of course?
Also repeated is in graphics if not in words are the comments from TIm’s earlier post on Landscape Urbanism and New Urbanism.

Carbon emissions & spatial connections I spoke today to Dr Joyce Rosenthal’s “Environmental Planning & Sustainable Development” class at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. My presentation “Carbon emissions & spatial connections” can be downloaded from Slideboom. … Read More

via The power of the network