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Arbor tremuloides
A lazy post for a lazy Monday, but hopefully you'll find it interesting. It's a short clip from Our Daily Bread, a feature-length documentary produced by Nikolaus Geyrhalter.

Having never wondered how pecans and walnuts are harvested on an industrial scale and then seeing how it's actually done for the first time, we were quite taken aback. It was as if discovering a new species of marine animal thriving in the violent hydrothermal whirlpools of some deep-oceanic trench — spectacularly ornamented, wondrously strange, marvelous.

Our reaction obviously says more about how far removed we are from the means of food production than anything about an inherent quality, but agricultural landscapes never fail to astonish us.

On agro
The self-replicating, self-similar geology of San Lucido
San Lucido, Italy

On the coast
Ensuring the Future of Food in Japan

Here's an educational video from Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. It's remarkable for making very complex, interconnected issues — i.e., food security, public health, global trade, energy and geography — more readily understandable. And in under 5 minutes! Quite an amazing feat.

It's rather reminiscent of the ephemeral films made by government agencies and corporations of 1950s America. The production quality here is more slick, but it's still propaganda, a brand of social engineering instilling institutional definitions of patriotism and good citizenship. Good Japanese eat Japanese food.

Cultural hegemony via pastel colors and infographics porn.

There should be more of these made everywhere.

On agro

Reveal Me

Rosa Barba Prize 1: Nicolai Kulturcenter
Nicolai Kulturcenter

The recipient of the 5th Rosa Barba European Landscape Award, announced recently in Barcelona during the 5th European Biennale of Landscape Architecture, is the Nicolai Kulturcenter in Kolding, Denmark, designed by Kristine Jensen.

Nicolai Kulturcenter

The project, we read, involved transforming what was little more than an alleyway — or a “lousy backyard,” as the landscape architect describes it in the most recent dispatch of Terragrams — into a multipurpose cultural space that is “more attractive and inviting than its predecessor.”

Nicolai Kulturcenter

The program “consists of various elements that are connected to areas designated for outdoor activities: the entrance; a garden where children can play and relax on the grass; a terrace for patrons of the cinema cafés; a large circular stage used for outdoor cinema in summer and for theater performances and concerts; a shopping area; a small garden next to the music hall; and a multifunctional square. A Cor-Ten steel wall and a Cor-Ten steel stage/platform have been built along the two terraces situated on the west side.”

Nicolai Kulturcenter

Apart from the stage, perhaps the site's other signature element is the graphic pattern, rendered on the ground out of white thermoplastic. It gives the space an element of play and fun, which is a nice contrast to the industrial nature of the Cor-Ten steel, the grimy asphalt and the dour facade of the buildings. Moreover, it helps to partition the various outdoor rooms without adding to the clutter. There is compartmentalized density but also an openness and a flexibility, order but also disorder.

In her presentation of the project at the biennale, Jensen quoted Marc-Antoine Laugier:

Anyone who knows how to design a park properly will have no difficulty designing a plan by which a city will be built - in terms of its location or area. Squares, intersections and streets are needed. Regularity as well as strangeness are needed, correspondences and antitheses, accidents that vary the picture, great order to the details, but confusion, clashing and tumult in the whole.

“This quotation,” explained Jensen, “not only reflects the necessity of contradiction and counteraction in any kind of planning, whether the character is evergreen or never green, to me it also reveals a simple program on how to work within an urban context.

“Parks, as well as cities, are built, dismantled and rebuilt over time - revealing structures and spaces that reflects the ongoing times in the urban fabric that dissolve into a different sort of text or narrative patterns that engender superficial depths. In this, at both daylight and neon light, the world unfolds itself in a super spatial surface as complex, immeasurably vast, wonderful and sometimes almost incomprehensible.”

Nicolai Kulturcenter

Nicolai Kulturcenter

Nicolai Kulturcenter

Nicolai Kulturcenter

Nicolai Kulturcenter

Nicolai Kulturcenter
Rainwater Harvesting in Quito
Of all the phenomenal spaces concocted by Paisajes Emergentes for their entry in the Parque del Lago ideas competition, our favorite one has to be the open-air theater that doubles as a rainwater storage tank.

Paisajes Emergentes

Or is it a water tank that occasionally hosts cultural events, the itinerary being dependent on weather conditions beyond a day's forecasted precipitation? One can't imagine it functional during the wet season or even during the dry season if rain isn't particularly scarce.

Of course, there's a simple solution: build a floating stage. The number of available seats might then determine what sort of program can be scheduled. If mostly empty, a popular band can be booked. If one or two tiers are available, an experimental play. How about a local production of Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses or an avant-garde staging of The Odyssey? A micro-naumachia?

Even in its flooded state, however, the space is still occupiable, a point of interest just like any of the artificial lakes and pools in the park.

Surprisingly adaptable, it's a space attuned to the temporal vagaries of climate, the fluctuating rate of water consumption and the cultural preferences of Quito's residents.

Rainwater Harvesting in Al-Andalus
AAgrotecture 4: Gastronomic Garden
To finish off this series of student projects from Nannette Jackowski and Ricardo de Ostos's vertical studio at the AA is Taebeom Kim's Gastronomic Garden.

Gastronomic Garden

There's a lot of things happening here. First, there are the allotment gardens hovering over — perhaps are even propped up by — compost tanks used for recycling garden scraps as well organic waste of local residents.

One particularly large bulbous structure, somewhat reminiscent of sludge digesters at some sewer treatment plants, is designated as a place for contemplation, though it would most likely become a site of illicit activities and even grave criminality in the real world.

Gastronomic Garden

Somewhere on the site is a parking garage. This, together with the compost tanks, would generate energy via a process that unfortunately isn't elaborated in the project statement nor in the images we have on hand. We suspect the “oven tower” plays a role. Something to do with (carbon monoxide) convection perhaps?

Connecting its “semi-independent levels” of leisure and production are walkways and bridges for vehicles and pedestrians.

Gastronomic Garden

Of the four projects, this is the least site-specific and therefore hardest to determine how well it fits into the city or if its contextual engagement is, per the studio brief, primarily urban. Is it in London or could we even be in the countryside? One has to give it a generous benefit of a doubt to accept that it wasn't arbitrarily plopped into place.

In any case, to our own delight, this vagueness allowed us to easily recast the project as a proposal to adaptively reuse some of the complexly braided highway intersections in the U.S., many of which twist and turn in the middle of the city. By some implausible circumstances, perhaps now made at least imaginable with the financial crisis and, despite the current respite, the still looming post-oil era, patterns of habitation and mobility have rendered them obsolete. Empty of cars, they can now be colonized by eager gardeners who have been on waiting lists for allotments for years. In the middle of each cloverleaf would be waste recycling towers and “meditation” domes. Instead of ribbons of concrete, you have ribbons of vegetables.

Or: let the cars stay. But envelop the elevated roads in sound-dampening tube, as seen in the image above or at OMA's McCormick Tribune Campus Center at IIT. Inside, motorists will be bathed in extraterrestrial neon, deprived of photogenic skylines and waterfront vistas. Outside, you have horticultural Möbius strips and knotted access ramps coiling around this smog-filled airborne tunnel, tight like a noose, then extending out to colonize adjacent negative spaces.

King's Vineyard London

On agro
Central Arizona Project
Central Arizona Project
Quito 1: Paisajes Emergentes
Paisajes Emergentes

In August this year, a design competition was launched to generate ideas to repurpose Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport after its planned closing in a couple of years.

According to the organizers, “the coming availability of 126 hectares of space with a flat topography, located in the midst of a consolidated area, which thanks to the decision of the Quito Metropolitan Council, will be transformed into a park, constitutes an exceptional event and a unique opportunity. This leads us to rethink the city and to take advantage of the opportunity to set forth solutions to multiple issues linked to: changes in the use and building capacity of land; improvement in mobility and transversal connectivity; expansion of infrastructure; provision of green areas and public spaces; improvement in environmental conditions, recovery of urban landscapes and environment; improvement of the quality of life of present and future inhabitants of the city.”

We only learned of this competition, because two teams that had submitted entries uploaded their images onto their Flickr accounts after the results were announced late last month. Both projects are quite spectacular, visually gorgeous and brimming with ideas. We'll post them separately, and should we find more entries and like what we see, we'll publish them here as well.

The first team, then, is Paisajes Emergentes, a studio collective based in Medellin and Bogota, Colombia. Its members include Luis Callejas, Edgar Mazo and Sebastian Mejia.

This is their Second Prize-winning entry, in all its linear awesomeness.

Paisajes Emergentes

Per the competition brief, water has to be central element in the design. After all, the organizers refer to the future park as Parque del Lago.

In response, Paisajes Emergentes flooded the 3-kilometer runway to create an “active hydrologic park,” which they then partitioned into 6 programmatically discrete areas.

Paisajes Emergentes

1. At the north end of the park are wetlands. These bioremediate water redirected from the other end of the park after having run its course through this outrageously elongated pool.

2. Relatively clean water from the wetlands is then used to fill an open air aquarium. The tanks here contain fluvial species from tropical ecosystems.

3. An aquatic botanical garden comes next in this hydrological assembly line. Whereas the faunal variety is showcased in the aquarium, tropical plants are the main attractions here, though both are equally essential to maintain any kind of a robust ecosystem.

4. From there, water moves into circular water tanks, where it is mechanically oxygenated and filtrated. Pedestrian walkways involve people with an infrastructure and a process that are usually hidden from them. Meanwhile, one has to question the placement of these tanks. Shouldn't it be at the head of the line to take care of the heavy duty stuff? Given the park's closed system and the proven ability of constructed wetlands to improve water quality biologically, is a “conventional” treatment plant, of that scale, even necessary?

5. In any case, the water must meet legal standards of quality if they are to fill the public pools and thermal baths. A combination of wind and solar energy is used to heat this aquatic complex.

6. Finally, we come to a recreational lake, where the water is collected in subterranean tanks to satisfy the need of irrigation systems and general maintenance of the park before.

Paisajes Emergentes

Paisajes Emergentes

Paisajes Emergentes

Additional activities are also programmed adjacent to this central pool. For instance, the old terminal building is turned into a convention center. Soft materials and walls are removed, and the remaining forest of columns confine 3 theaters inside hanging gardens.

Paisajes Emergentes

Paisajes Emergentes

There is also an open air aviation museum, where a fleet of planes are allowed to rot in their obsolescence. A wetland fed by waters from the botanical garden is allowed colonize this area. In time, the planes become a sort of Picturesque ruins of the industrial age, sinking into deep mire, crumbling in the wilds.

Paisajes Emergentes

Meanwhile, it would have been nice to see how the park relates to its context, apart from suggesting amenities the local community may (or may not) need. Graphically, the site looks divorced from the urban grid. All paths radiate out of the terminal building and one parking lot on the other half, then terminate just before they reach the edge of the park. Opportunities for more meaningful connectivity between the surrounding neighborhoods and between the north and south parts of the city seem to have been missed.

Paisajes Emergentes

For more images, visit the Flickr account of Paisajes Emergentes.

Dispatches from a Post-Water Chicago
Treating Cancer with Landscape Architecture
Treating Acid Mine Drainage in Vintondale

Quito 2: Back to the Airport
Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal
Machnester Bolton & Bury Canal
On the coast

Permutations of a theme:

1) The Palms: Pruned visits Dubai for the first time.

2) Atlantis Rising: the making of an artificial archipelago.

3) Beached: the self-replicating, self-similar geology of Chicago's mercurial edge.

4) Trailing Suction Hopper Dredgers: the sort of seafaring vessel you need to rehabilitate dying beaches, fortify riverbanks, recontour ports and harbors, construct offshore multi-terminal airports or realize a real estate developer's wettest wet dream.

5) Climate Ghettos: some will be saved and some will simply drop to the sea.

6) The Army Corps of Engineers: The Game.

7) The Sands of Singapore: on mineral piracy; the then still booming global construction industry; immigrant topographies; and of course, Kiefer Sutherland in 24: The Movie.

8) Galveston on Stilts: a proto-Archigram city in quasi-flight.

9) Real Estate for the Future: setting the stage for the real estate boom and bust, the cycle of irrational exuberance and spectacular crash, ~10,000 years from now.

10) The Retreating Village: disaster urbanism.


11) Pure Geography: an oceanside trail in Chile that is knocks-you-unconcsious-and-petrifies-your-soul-as-if-falling-eternally-into-the-abyss terrifying.

12) Venice on Stilts: another proposal to save La Serenissima.

13) Sand Wars: “industrial Brindisi” vs. “elegant, baroque Lecce”.

14) The Great Climate Change Park: on Ashley Kelly and Rikako Wakabayashi's winning entry for the Envisioning Gateway competition.

15) Microcoasts: Vicente Guallart's orthogonal paramecium genetically modified with an Autobot's DNA (or not).

16) A Field Guide to the Public Beaches Of Malibu: how to access your beach.

17) Fish Works: aquaculture in Brooklyn.

18) 10 Meters of Extended US Coastline: a temporary art installation by Danish artist Nikolaj Recke.

19) Operation Beachhead: Andrew Stacey's photographs of coastal fortification at Happisburgh, England.

20) Constituency of Ignorance: quoting at length Cornelia Dean's Against the Tide.


21) “A new approach to management of the American shoreline is urgently needed”: again quoting at length Cornelia Dean's Against the Tide.

22) Coastal Retreat: from a vernacular architecture of Victorian social conventions to a zeitgeist architecture of fiscal sobriety.

23) Other Bathing Machines: King Alfonso's architecturally riotous beach furniture.

24) Anti-Tsunami Landscapes: what if the Army Corps of Engineers hired Peter Eisenman.

25) This House Turns and Returns, Too: the future adaptive re-use of the future Pavilion of the Netherlands, designed by John Körmeling for Expo 2010 Shanghai.

26) Nomadic Hotels and Lighthouses: wishing there was YouTube in the 1880s.

27) The Supersurface of Architectural Diaspora: of course.

28) Turkey Point Canals: a nuclear power plant's cooling canals, which are also part of a wildlife preserve for rare alligators.

29) Traces and Trajectories: Smout Allen's Retreating Village returns briefly.

30) Ebola Island: hilarious, if not frightening.


Switches and Gauges
Railroad Turntable
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