Pruned — On landscape architecture and related fields — ArchivesFuture Plural@pruned — Offshoots — #Chicagos@altchicagoparks@southworkspark
Many of our readers leave comments to posts published weeks or months earlier, and as such often go unnoticed. Or so we suspect. Therefore, we're moving one recent comment to the front, an announcement by Alexander Schlichter alerting us to an upcoming documentary about Theo Jansen and his strandbeesten. The shooting starts today.

“From 22nd June until 6th July we accompany Theo Jansen to London,“ writes Schlichter. “There he has an exhibition at ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) and the strandbeesten will walk on the Trafalgar Square. I try to write an article each day about our shooting.”

Theo Jansen

Perhaps it's entirely possible, if one loiters long enough in the general production area, that you could come away with a cameo appearance in the finished film. But anyway, while the team is shooting in London, their diary will be published here.


Animaris geneticus: or, Intergalactic planetary landscape architect
The Parkless Park Resurfaces

From Earth Science Picture of the Day, the amorphous, self-organizing and self-destructing parkless park as breathtakingly enacted by a million European starlings: “During spring in Denmark, at approximately one half an hour before sunset, flocks of more than a million European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) gather from all corners to join in the incredible formations shown above. This phenomenon is called Black Sun (in Denmark), and can be witnessed in early spring throughout the marshlands of western Denmark, from March through to the middle of April. The starlings migrate from the south and spend the day in the meadows gathering food, sleeping in the reeds during the night.”



Gorgeous beyond compare.

The Parkless Park
Counting Crowds
Bouffant Topiary, or: 7 “terrestrial activities of aliens,” Part V
Ken Smith here suggests possible topiary tactics for the landless and absurdly style-conscious urban dwellers to get a leg up on their fashionable rivals.

Bouffant Topiary by Ken Smith

Says the landscape architect: “Hair design and garden design have similarities. They are both organic, grow and are manipulated. They have to do with style, fashion and pretense.”

So quite possibly a trip to a Alexander McQueen boutique would also merit a stop at a Home Depot afterwards.

Chest Hair Maze by Ken Smith

Of course, these photomontages hint at even more provocative acts of body modification: the self-mutilation of actual living tissues as spatialized in the Transgenic Zoo and the Brave New Edible Estates. Michael Jackson as a legitimate landscape concern.

The Technolicious Arboretum
Extreme Horticulture
Revival Field
Edouard François

Prunings XXI
Michael Kenna

On the announcement that no landscape architect sits on the London 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority's design panel, Kathryn Moore, president of Landscape Institute, responds on Building Design.

On André Le Nôtre.

On PARKitecture. “The idea of designing with nature flourished in the National Park Service during the early decades of the twentieth century. Architects, landscape architects and engineers combined native wood and stone with convincingly 'native' styles to create visually appealing structures that seemed to fit naturally within the majestic landscapes.”

On Toronto's major urban projects and such: 1) the Central Waterfront Design Competition was won by West 8; 2) Bruce Mau's incoherence (and perhaps inexperience with large-scale landscape design) is turning Downsview Park into a fiasco; 3) just recently realized how great Spacing Wire is; 4) no progress yet on the zoo and sky tunnels unfortunately.

On gardening on NPR.

On Moon River, n.e.w. y.o.r.c.k., drosscapes, urban scar tissues, the Kiley Gardens, synthesized integrated peripheries and de-differentiated open-ended niches, typo-hedges, manufacturing waterfalls, arches and giant sequoias, avian surveillance, Graz, Austria's real time mobile landscape, and an IDM-rescored Fantastic Planet.
Dhaka, Bangladesh

From the European Space Agency comes this “multitemporal” satellite image of Dhaka, Bangladesh at the confluence of the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers. Prismatic, incandescent, and curiously, palpably supple. Tissue-like. Soon after discovering the image (and also this image), the BBC reported on the factory riots in Dhaka earlier this month, one of the many civil, political and religious unrest in the country this year and last. So if anything, this synchronicity highlights the often jarring contrast between the somber, lived experience on the ground and the hypnotic beauty of satellite imagery: the paradox of Icarus.

Satellite Images from the European Space Agency
The Cube, the CAVE and the TouchTable
Here are some übergadgetries that may facilitate the visualization and manipulation of complex data sets while simultaneously fostering more meaningful collaborations. That is, of course, if your office can afford their steep price tags and have the space in the studio to put them in.


The TouchTable is “an easy to use display device that detects the location and movement of users’ hands on its surface to dynamically change a projected image in real-time.” And while standing with the design team, perhaps even with the clients, everyone can interact with the screen with simple, intuitive gestures.

So imagine a shoal of hands and fingers recontouring swales and berms, rearranging town centers and Olympic venues, erasing entire neighborhoods with the fanatical zeal of a developer, and even plotting out evacuation routes during times of natural disasters.

With gentle pressures and soft caresses.


But for something that's immersive, try a CAVE, such as the one in the Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois Chicago. As the name somewhat implies, the CAVE is a “surround-screen, surround-sound, projection-based virtual reality (VR) system. The illusion of immersion is created by projecting 3D computer graphics into a 10'x10'x9' cube composed of display screens that completely surround the viewer. It is coupled with head and hand tracking systems to produce the correct stereo perspective and to isolate the position and orientation of a 3D input device.”

If you like, have a look at this landscape architecture thesis in which a CAVE was used to design and code a virtual landscape of an Australian Aboriginal creation narrative.


For something that's completely immersive, try the Cube at the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign. “The viewer/subject in the Cube enjoys a completely untethered visualization experience. A twenty-four sensor wireless Ascension MotionStar tracking system transmits 6DOF information from the subject. Active stereo is viewed through a Stereographics LCD shutter-glass system. Spatialized sonification is afforded each subject through head-related transfer function-generated sound, based on information from the Motionstar system.”

Anyone drooling yet?




“Additional data gathering/presenting devices, such as hand-held wireless computers, wireless microphones and wireless cameras can be incorporated in an individual experimenter's research.”

So are you getting the image of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, conjuring monumental earth-moving tricks, re-knotting the floodgates of New York to relieve itself of its teeming masses, coaxing the sea to perform arabesque self-similar geogenesis, or maybe divining intercontinental migrating wave gardens from the plains of Illinois just as Paul Dukas' score begins its final tempest? Or perhaps he's bewitching an army of guerrilla gardeners to haunt the urban hinterlands, or maybe just presiding over the future Panoptic Arcade? Or like some zoning board urbicidal maniac, rampaging through historic city centers, ethnic enclaves, squatter cities, and urban Edens?

Multi-Touch Topography
“Of Gardens”
“When Ages grow to Civility and Elegancie, Men come to Build Stately, sooner than to Garden Finely: As if Gardening were the Greater Perfection.” — Francis Bacon, 1625
Urban graffiti of absence



Three of nine incredible photos of spectral ornamentation by José Antonio Millán.

“Son los despojos abiertos de la habitación del hombre, el mapa vertical de sus diferencias, la obscena muestra de lo que las paredes ocultan (duchas, papel pintado, manchas de grasa en la cabecera de un lecho).

“Las lluvias, la intemperie dulcifican los colores en una misma paleta pastel. Los azulejos resisten heróicamente, y sólo caen uno a uno.

“En fuerte competencia con los edificios que vendrán, las medianeras duran poco tiempo.”

For more on “medianeras,” read (or BabelFish) Millán's article El arte de las medianeras. And for a bit of provenance, I stumbled upon the photographs via Millàn's wonderful article on pictorial stones, which I linked to in an earlier post.

Lastly, is there a Flickr pool for these façades?

POSTSCRIPT #1: Yes. In fact, there are two: Medianeras and The Unconscious Art of Demolition. So go now and contribute. (Thanks, Mike and José!)
Landscape architects as landscapes
One early morning last April, a mudslide buried landscape architect Walter Guthrie behind his hillside house in Mill Valley, California, outside San Francisco. He was 73.

Landscape architects as landscapes

Embarrassingly I've never heard of Walter Guthrie before posting about his interview with The Cultural Landscape Foundation, and soon afterwards, he passed on quite easily into nonmemory. After a second chance encounter, however, I've not been able to avoid thinking about the circumstances of his death.

Last March, “when the rains started falling and didn't stop, Walter Guthrie's concern grew for the hillside he cherished behind his Mill Valley home.”

After cracks formed in the soil, he hired a contractor to install a piping system to handle runoff from the saturated canyon.

Then, on Wednesday, in the predawn darkness while he was checking to see if a backyard culvert was clogged, an avalanche of mud coursed down the steep slope and buried the 73-year-old landscape architect.

A steward of the land suffocated by his own ward.

Particularly heart wrenching is this account of Guthrie's wife by one of the rescuers: “I was told that she was shining a flashlight out the window to give him light to work and she turned away for a second and when she looked back the slide came down and hit the back of the house.”

And then “neighbors above the slide say they could hear Lisa Guthrie screaming.”

Landscape architects as landscapes

As in any disaster wherein landscapes and lives are momentarily or permanently become out of sync, the aftermath and the scenes of rescue later that day must have been charged with frenetic incomprehension; with anxiety over a still moving, still lethal earth; and with inconsolable grief.

But perhaps therein one could interject a thought, a possible way to rescue Walter Guthrie from his inopportune demise: He did not go out at 3:00 in the morning to inspect some backyard drain! Rather he ventured out to make one last landscape, his greatest work, the one to be called his masterpiece — himself!

To graduate from a “yeoman farmer” to be landscape.

Landscape architects as landscapes

And let's even rescue this new landscape from the rescuers themselves, from an eternity hermetically sealed in satin and cement, and transport him away from that hillside to somewhere secluded, say, western Montana — forever undiscovered, forever floating inside the earth like an Archaeopteryx in akimbo, progressing silently in darkness from zoology into botany into geology and, given enough time, say, a few billions of years, into astronomy.

Meanwhile, there'd be new gardens in rich efflorescence, ossified bedrock dislodged from the living, new fields where carrion feeders can graze. And there'd also be new caverns and pits, a karst terrain of vessels and intestines and bronchi to be explored by the indigenous population. Guthrie, of course, would at first seem to be an intruder, but once the initial apprehension by the shy and the nervous critters that dwell in this place subsides, he would then be fully welcomed.

Landscape architects as landscapes

If one objects to a terrain unseen and unknowable to the human species being considered a landscape, then we can suppose to transport Walter Guthrie from that hillside — or for that matter, other landscape architects as well, and here we're talking dead ones, obviously — to the Body Farm. This infamous forensic anthropology research station isn't entirely accessible but it's not completely isolated either and thus enough for our own purposes.

There, as the body begins to liquify — to flood the earth with itself, as it were — a team of surveyors will keep a close watch, reporting everything that happens in this new geography. Lodge now above ground on one or several contour lines, amongst real vegetation, there will be new fountains to witness, the uplifts and subductions of anatomical landforms, the successions and regressions of ecologies. And all of that lovingly recorded, annotated, analyzed and discussed amongst colleagues and friends alike like cherished memories.

So if one were to say that there was only death and grief on that hillside that day, they would certainly be mistaken.

Passiflora Unfurled

A Passiflora as charted by the Swiss botanist Arnold Dodel-Port and archived for The Memory of the Netherlands Project. Much thanks to Peacay of BibliOdyssey for reminding me of it again.

Meanwhile, here's an interesting botanical history: “The 'Passion flower' acquired its name from descriptions of its flower parts supplied by priests in South America known at that time as the 'New Spain'. The parts were interpreted by Giacomo Bosio, a churchman and historian, in Rome (1609), as representing various elements of the Crucifixion. The five petals and five sepals are the ten disciples less Judas & Peter. The corona filaments are the crown of thorns. The five stamen with anthers match the five sacred wounds & the three stigma the nails. This symbolism is not universal however, in Japan it is sometimes known as 'The Clock Plant'.”

And from the same website, there's a movie of a Passiflora edulis blooming: an exhilarating 20-second Passion Play as directed by Richard Dawkins.
Garden Improvement
Garden Improvements

A new exhibit at the Wave Hill, Glyndor Gallery and Grounds in the Bronx, NY: “To many visitors Wave Hill is a utopian garden, a place to seek ideas and inspiration for their own homes. Garden Improvement offers an alternate view of the relationship between people and nature by looking at how a garden is made more inhabitable, personal, and domesticated. The exhibition will include idiosyncratic, humble, do-it-yourself ideas born from artists' spirit of invention, rather than by design.”

The show ends 27 August 2006.
Garden Follies and Chinoiserie Pavilions by Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams
Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Pruned turns 1 year old today! And I've decided to treat it — i.e., me — I shall be treating myself to a few architectural notecards from Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams. To decorate my desk, trade, barter with, or use it as a passkey to a Kubrickian sex orgy.

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Andrew Zega & Bernd H. Adams

Architectural Watercolors & Architectural Renderings Zega & Dams
Pictorial Stones
Pietra paesina

The earth as a landscape painter, inscribing on itself a record of its own lived geomythology.

Pietra paesina

Could we be reading in these pictorial stones the birth pangs of mountains; the deaths of breathless oceans, vaporized by the paroxysms of continental drift; the sorting of dunes by an indulgent river; the melancholic dawn of a twilight-bound, Cambrian day?

One thing is for sure: these terrestrial epics — whatever they might be — are now sung today by a new breed of Homers and Virgils, equipped with electric drills, pick axes and polishing tools.
The interactive kicking fountain
At the moment, there are only two simple ways to interact with the Smart Fountain™: 1) shake your feet to frighten it away, and 2) wiggle your fingers to coax it back to a vigorous spout.

Smart Foutain™

But no doubt more gestures and motion capture algorithms are in the works, and soon you'll be dancing like Michael Jackson during his glory days, like a conjurer of phantasmagorical aquatic tricks.

Or a rain-soaked Gene Kelly channeling a frolicking Anita Ekberg channeling a delectable Esther Williams in a frothy Busby Berkeley musical extravaganza. With any fountain in any park anywhere. Or with the Mississippi River. Reenact the riotous passages of The Rite of Spring and the Yangtze River prematurely bursts through the floodgates of the Three Gorges Dam.

Leidenfrost Fountain
Landscape Architecture: The Musical
Earth Fountain Redux
The “45.5 Meteorite Craters Made by Humans on Their 45.5 Hundred Million Year Old Planet” Fountain
Naoya Hatakeyama & Geoff's Earth-Fountain©
La Machine de Marly
Columbus Circle
“Don't move that fountain!”
Forever Fernwood, Part III
On a return visit to the website of Forever Fernwood, which is one of the premier experimental sites in green burial in the U.S. and owned by Tyler Cassity — he with the young J.F.K. physiognomy and velvety vibrato (like a leopard's purr), and the fondness for hiring down-on-their-luck porn stars — we stumbled upon the photo below.

Forever Fernwood

And its caption, which reads: “Fernwood uses GPS and GIS to collect and manage detailed information about graves on this site. Using this technology allows us to keep accurate records and link to digital LifeStories about people who are buried in natural burial areas while minimizing the impact on the land.”

So while your molecules may have long ago leeched deep into the lithosphere, recycled into migrating tectonic plates and supermountains, or expelled out into interstellar space, the site of your disintegration will forever remain recorded, precisely and accurately and more importantly to some, permanently. Uploaded and downloaded by generations of your offsprings in neverending, rhyming resurrections of unconscious memory. ESRI ArcView as digital ossuary.

Part I
Part II

The georeferenced spatial meanderings of a lawnmower
ike™: or, The Amazing Geospatial Intelligence Mobile Mapping and Photographic Tool
Transition Region and Coronal Explorer

The surface of the sun as observed by the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) in high temporal and spatial resolution. Coronal filaments, loops and mass ejections; magnetic arcades, ultraviolet typhoons and X-ray hurricanes; fugitive prominences, earth-bound to create spectacular auroral displays or to wreak havoc on power grids and satellite telecommunication systems — all archived in one giant database.

And by giant I mean you can download 200+ gigabytes of movies in QuickTime and DVD img files!

For free!

Transition Region and Coronal Explorer

Transition Region and Coronal Explorer

Transition Region and Coronal Explorer

Transition Region and Coronal Explorer

Transition Region and Coronal Explorer

Transition Region and Coronal Explorer

Transition Region and Coronal Explorer

Transition Region and Coronal Explorer

Transition Region and Coronal Explorer

Because the surface of the sun is a legitimate site for topographical investigation and landscape design.

A world of spin and flame is born in the head of the dreamer, blue suns, green whirlwinds, birdbeaks of light pecking open the pomegranate stars
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