6th International Garden Festival, Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens
Twelve gardens by designers from Australia, France, the United States, Québec and Canada make up the 6th International Garden Festival, which will be held at the Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens, Québec, Canada from June 24 to October 2, 2005.
Judging from the project briefs, the gardens promise to be inventive, provocative, and fun. Last year's entries, some of which are presented again this year, expanded traditional notions of what forms gardens can take, what gardens can mean, and what functions they can take.
Go see and send back photos.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Pedestrian Levitation by Thomas Laureyssen is a site-specific installation, which “visualises the real movement of people, and adds a virtual movement based on the assumption that the mind of people is not subject to gravity or any other physical limitations.”
Now let's visualize the movement of people in a park on Mars or on the moon.
“The movement of the pedestrians could be regarded as force-vectors thought the space. A person's trajectory from A -> B is nearly never a straight line, as many obstacles are in the way (like buildings), imposed trajectories (pedestrian crossings, sidewalks) and physical limitations (gravity). At this point a question is asked: how would the pedestrians move when they were not limited by anything? What could their trajectory be? The results of these thought processes could never be scientifically correct, but are an artistic interpretation in nature.”
Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River
Friday, June 24, 2005
Harold N. Fisk's 1944 monumental tome on nature at its most mundane and sublime is, amazingly, available online and free. Landscape architects in every specialty have much to glean from it, not the least of which are water engineering techniques, ecological and geological processes, graphic representation, and the ideological and philosophical implications of reconstructing the Mississippi River.
The maps, scanned at high resolution and full scale, are some of the most beautiful I've seen.
The following files are hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
1. Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River - Fisk, 1944 Report (197MB)
2. Oversized Plates - Fisk, 1944 Report (686MB)
3. Oversized Plates Rectified - Fisk, 1944 Report (369MB)
You can also preview the maps on Flickr
Lower Mississippi Valley: Engineering Geology Mapping Program
Thursday, June 23, 2005
“Without permit or license, we plant seeds and seedlings in all those neglected corners of public space.”
I am heartened to hear that native species are being prescribed. Hope it outgrows its "guerrilla" moniker as it usually implies a transitory act, minimal public participation, and intangible community benefits. But would it then become “community gardening?” A fascinating thread in the urban garden narrative.
Landscape Architecture Film Series
Monday, June 20, 2005
In need of a movie suggestion? Try a movie or two or an entire series from the
SPRING 2004 FILM SERIES
Alien Nation or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Live with Foreigners
Walter Lang, The King and I (1956)
Orson Welles, Touch of Evil (1958)
Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers (1965)
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Cheech Marin, Born in East L.A. (1987)
Mira Nair, Mississippi Masala (1991)
Mathieu Kassovitz, La Haine (1995)
Kar Wai Wong, Happy Together
Daniel Friedman and Sharon Grimberg, Miss India Georgia (1997)
David and Laurie Shapiro, Keep the River on Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale (2000)
Atom Egoyan, Ararat (2002)
FALL 2004 FILM SERIES
Spectral Subtopia: Seven Films about Suburban Space in Post-war America
John O'Hagan, Wonderland (1997)
Nunnally Johnson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956)
Todd Haynes, Far From Heaven (2002)
Frank Perry, The Swimmer (1968)
Bryan Forbes, The Stepford Wives (1975)
Ang Lee, The Ice Storm (1997)
Tobe Hooper, Poltergeist (1982)
Landscape Architecture Film Series @ the University of Illinois
The Vertical Farm Project
Sunday, June 19, 2005
“An estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today. At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use. Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices. What can be done to avoid this impending disaster?”
Farm vertically. In urban areas.
The Vertical Farm Project
Atelier SOA Architectes Paris
Wave Garden by Yusuke Obuchi
Wave Garden by Yusuke Obuchi has been making the rounds in the exhibition circuit since it was first presented as a Master's thesis project at Princeton University's School of Architecture in 2002. Currently, it is part of the 2nd International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (see The Flood Begins). Whether utopian or whimsical or both, it is grounded on a deep understanding of real materials and systems that it transcends its utopian trappings. One could be beguiled into thinking that it might just work.
Floating off the California coastline, the Wave Garden is a prototype for a dual-function power plant and public park, oscillating with the ocean waves and cycles of energy demand. It is designed to succeed the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant after its 40-year license expires in the year 2026.
As an alternative to nuclear and other conventional energy sources, the Wave Garden is an electric power plant that derives energy from the movement of ocean waves. Its piezo-electro membrane is a flexible electric generator, where bending the material or applying stress creates an electric charge. Conversely, applying electric current to the membranes causes it to deform.
Monday through Friday, it generates energy, but at the weekends, the Wave Garden changes into a public garden - thus changing from a space of production to one of recreation and consumption. On weekends, selected areas lift above the surface of the ocean, acting as a ceiling under which boats approach the entrances.
The area dedicated to recreation during the weekends is inversely proportional to the energy consumed during the week. In this way, the public park acts as a visual indicator of energy consumption - the less energy used, the more area allocated to recreation.
Visitors gain access to the public garden via an elevator. They pass through the membrane, which allows them to observe the thinness of the Wave Garden's ground plane.
Princeton University, School of Architecture, Thesis Projects, 2002
Storefront for Architecture, 2002
Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, National Design Triennial, 2004
2nd International Architecture Biennial Rotterdam, Flow, 2005
The Flood Begins
Thursday, June 16, 2005
The Flood is the title for the 2nd International Architecture Biennale (May 26 - June 26) in Rotterdam, chosen by curator Andriaan Geuze. Though water and flooding is a particular local concern, they are imporant themes outside the Netherlands, too.
“Climate change means that the whole world must address the issue. Around the world cities are situated on low-lying coastal zones and in delta regions where rivers enter the sea. These are amongst the most fertile areas and are well linked by sea and land to the world. But these are also cities with populations in the millions that are now highly vulnerable because of the threat of flooding.”
Landscape within Architecture (within Landscape)
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
306090 07: Landscape within Architecture is intended as a foray into landscape architecture and a catalyst for exchange between students, faculty, and administrators interested in understanding and expanding the presence of landscape within the pedagogy and practice of architecture. This volume includes essays by Frederick Steiner, Alessandra Ponte, James Wines, Kimberly Hill, and others, as well as student projects by Kristin Akkerman Schuster, Elena Wiersma, and Hillary Sample.
Guest editor David L. Hays writes: “Collectively, the essays underscore four main lessons for architecture and landscape architecture. The first is that exposure to alternate theory and practice expands the way designers think about and beyond aspects of work already familiar to them. ... A second lesson is to embrace time in practical as well as philosophical terms. ... A third lesson is to get students out of the studio. ... Explorations of real space educate the body and mind in ways that cannot be achieved within the confines of the studio. ... A fourth lesson for both architecture and landscape architecture is to move beyond appropriation by engaging in real collaboration ... [H]ierarchical division of design professions that characterized professional culture in the last century should be a thing of the past.”
Axel Erlandson and the Tree Circus
Every element to this fascinating story seems ripe for a feature documentary. There are the trees, seemingly extraterrestrial but undoubtedly man-made. There is Axel Erlandson, an arboreal alchemist with grand visions of commercial success but whose endless hours spent on his menagerie point to a devotion verging on the spiritual. There are the variable horticultural triumphs hinting at the fame he longed for but found difficult to cultivate. And then the neglect, the constant confusion over ownership, and the epic transfer to a theme park. An aberrant Wagnerian Philip Glass passage would be blaring in the soundtrack at this time. A wife, an architect (not a landscape architect), and a nurseryman complete the cast.
Someone contact Errol Morris!
It is a variation on a classic garden narrative — an eccentric, garden aesthete, the favorite of aristocrats or even an aristocrat himself, experimenting with forms at a grand country estate, which becomes the stage setting for social fraternizing. Amidst the part-Japanese, part-Egyptian, part-Classical regular-irregular topiary jungle, social conventions are strictly enforced. One faux pas and you suffer the same fate as Glen Close in the finale of Dangerous Liaison. Except when it's a deliciously illicit tryst, which everyone else would be having. And then circumstances of history lead to the garden's ruin, to the designer obscurity, only to be rediscovered and transformed into a theme park in contemporary times.
Tourists now flock en mass. And well-funded grad students come for an hour and then proceed to spend their remaining grant money drinking and partying.
Wind Tunnel QTVR
Sunday, June 12, 2005
MoMA's first survey of contemporary landscape design has ended but its website still remains.
“Groundswell portrays the surge of creativity in the contemporary created landscape by presenting a diverse selection of plazas, public parks, and urban sectors — found through the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East — that have recently been completed or are in the process of being realized.”
Africa, South America, and Australia are (un)characteristically not represented. Our loss. Or is it theirs?
Biopaver by Joseph Hagerman
Ecologically sound pavers as alternative to impervious surfaces like asphalt and concrete are nothing new. What is novel about Biopaver, by Columbia graduate student Joseph Hagerman, is the addition of a biological core of phytoremediating plants that filters out pollutants from storm water runoff. It represents a synthesis of techonology, ecological process, and design.
Rosemary Laing and the Marvelous
In The Age of the Marvelous, Joy Kenseth defined the word "marvel" as understood several hundred years ago: "anything that lay outside the ordinary, especially when it had the capacity to excite the particular emotional responses of wonder, surprise, astonishment, or admiration." In seeing Rosemary Laing's work, one can't help but exclaim, "Marvelous!"
Laing has covered a patch of rainforest floor with brightly patterned carpeting. The result is discomforting. Are we in nature? Is this nature? Or is it actually comforting to find something familiar in the wilderness? Are we in a sumptuous salon? This is a place where man belongs and yet doesn't belong. We have made a space for ourselves and yet we feel like occupiers, despoilers of virgin land.