Johanna of J&L Gibbons ECLAS lecture on Second Nature

J&L Gibbons are the landscape architects for Smithfield Market

Jo gave a most interesting lecture to the Greenwich ECLAS landscape architecture conference in September 2017. It had three themes.
First Urban forestry. Many of the principles of sustainable design come from forestry practice. When we have No Trees we will have No Future.  Second, Soil. It is so sensual. We should pick it up and smell it.  Third, Community. We made the Earth our habitat and have a responsibility for all life within it. Landscape architecture is surely the profession that is the best placed to deal with it.
Jo then spoke about three J&L Gibbons projects.

J&L Gibbons design for Canal Park in Lea Valley

First the Lee Canal Park beside the QE Park. The community was invited to go on a ramble with the designers. You need to walk and talk and listen to clients. It was planned as a patchwork of habitats linked to biodiversity objectives. The canal park exists because of the water supply to Canary Wharf. They hired a big barge and invited members of the community – and the design team to cruise up and down the navigation. They also cycled and walked with them and it was very fruitful. Subprojects emerged out of the event. Biodiversity and play were integrated.
Second, the Dalston Eastern Curve, which was part of All London Green Grid. “It’s an extraordinary project”. One aspect was to make space in Dalston. “We said we needed 6 months to talk to people and set about mapping existing assets in collaboration with MUF. It became a disconnected park, which is right because you need open space near to where people live. We did proposals for 76 projects and presentations to get funding.  The Eastern Curve was one of the largest and we were lucky to have people supporting us. We drew in energy from the community. The proposals were for longer-term temporary use. It created lots of apprenticeships. We wanted it to be intriguing so created keyholes to see in, rather than banners. It became a community social enterprise, built on trust between stakeholders and the community
Third, Smithfield Market, which was won in open international competition.  At a public inquiry it was found that the developers who wanted to destroy the market had not considered the historic buildings. The inspector threw it out and the Museum of London had the idea of moving there.
Jo set up Landscape Learn last year to help people understand landscapes and share knowledge to explore the nature of nature, culture and stewardship. “We should be communicators. If we’re not communicating we’re not doing the job. Its incredibly important to realise that landscape design is not a linear process. We need constant feedback loops, going forward and back”.   I agree, 100%
Posted in community gardens

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE – Kindle eBook


LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: What, Why, When, How, Where, Who and What Next?

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Kindle Edition by Tom Turner (Author)
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Posted in landscape architecture, landscape design theory Tagged with:

Did chess originate as a garden game?

Chess may have begun as a garden game

Chess originated in India’s Gupta Empire (320 to 550 CE). Since Indian palace life centred on courtyards and gardens, it is likely that most games of chess were played in cool shade and green surroundings. The Hindu name for chess is chaturaṅga. This indicates a palace origin. It means ‘four divisions (of the military)’: infantry, cavalry, elephantry, and chariotry. Chess spread east and west along the Silk Roads and, again, is likely to have been played in the cool shade of caravansarai. The oldest surviving chess pieces were found in Afrasiab, overlooking modern Samarkand. Timur Tamerlane’s had a palace-fortress here. If chess ability correlates with generalship, Timur would have been a champion player.

Posted in landscape architecture

Public Open Space parks, squares, landscape character assessment

Can the relative popularity of these 5 London squares be explained by a list of ten landscape character assessment criteria? No.

PPS.org has identified 10 Principles for Successful Squares. Though sensible they remind me of 10 Qualities That Make Him A Perfect Husband  or ten qualities to make a Good Wife ‘smart, wise, beautiful, compassionate, funny, hard-working, aesthetically inspired, spiritual, passionately desirous‘.  The PPS.org list is:
1. IMAGE AND IDENTITY
2. ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS
3. AMENITIES
4. FLEXIBLE DESIGN
5. SEASONAL STRATEGY
6. ACCESS
7. THE INNER SQUARE & THE OUTER SQUARE
8. REACHING OUT LIKE AN OCTOPUS
9. THE CENTRAL ROLE OF MANAGEMENT
10. DIVERSE FUNDING SOURCES

Where is the PPS.org empirical evidence? How many of the criteria have to be satisfied? 10? 6? 3? 1? Bertrand Russell joked that ‘The Ten Commandments should be headed like an examination paper: No more than six to be attempted.’
A previous blog post on the Assessment of Small Urban Public Open – SUPOS – supported the principles of an evidence-based approach to landscape character assessment for public open space.

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: what? why?, when?,  eBook Free Offer 10-14th September 2017

Posted in urban design, urban squares

“How Concrete Jungles became Green Cities”

Green walls and living roofs can convert concrete jungles into green jungles.

‘‘Concrete jungle’ is the classic criticism of Modernist cities. The phrase was first used in a Billy Wilder movie to describe a sterile leafless view from an apartment in New York City (image, above top). Instead, cities should be richly vegetated and full of life. An abundance of living walls and roofs is likely to become the most visible difference between the cities of the 20th and 21st centuries.’ (Landscape Architecture, 2017 Chapter 8).

In The Lost Weekend (starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman) the image and the phrase were used to symbolise what was wrong with twentieth century cities. Let’s hope that by 2045 ‘Green Jungle’ will be in use to symbolise two things that were done right in twenty first century cities: living green walls and living green roofs. But jangal , the Hindi  word from which the English word jungle derives, meant ‘uncultivated ground’, which could be desert, forest or wasteland, so we are going to need a better term. I invite a future author to write on How Concrete Jungles became Green Cities. The word ‘city’ has a Latin origin and is related to citizen, civis and civilised.

The book from which the image is taken will be available as a free Amazon Kindle download from 10-14 September Pacific Standard Time

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE eBook Free Offer 10-14th September 2017

Posted in green living walls, green roofs

Prof Richard Sennett attacks a basic principle of landscape architecture

Richard Sennett argues that we should 'stop building in context' and that we should have no 'historic districts'. So you can build anything anywhere - to escape the 'tyranny' (or planners, landscape architects etc). The above montage is of Washington DC but is uncomfortably reminiscent of what has been done to St Paul's Cathedral in London.

Richard Sennett argues that we should ‘stop building in context’ and that we should have no ‘historic districts’. So you can build anything anywhere – to escape the ‘tyranny’ (or planners, landscape architects etc). The above montage is of Washington DC but is uncomfortably reminiscent of what has been done to St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

‘Consult the Genius of the Place’, now expressed as ‘design with sensitivity to context’ is the Single Agreed Law of landscape design. It embodies the conviction that we should, as NT Newton put it in the title of a book on the history of landscape architecture, Design on the land. The works of man must be integrated with works of nature. Ian McHarg stated a similar idea in another book title: Design with nature. The landscape architecture profession’s historic connection with Context Theory, through Meason and the first English book on landscape architecture (1828) is discussed in this eBook

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: what? why?, when?,  eBook Free Offer 10-14th September 2017

Richard Sennett attacks the principle of context-sensitive design. He calls it the ‘Tyranny of Context’. He is wrong and, with the possible exceptions of Modernist architects, and supporters of Donald Trump,  I doubt if he could find any significant public support for his attack. So where did Richard Sennett get the idea from? I think it came from ‘fanaticism’. He began with the decent principle that open societies, systems and cities are better than closed societies, systems and cities. However much validity this claim may have, it does not follow that designers should be allowed to do whatever they want to do wherever they want to do it. That is the road to chaos. My approach to context theory and context-sensitive design in landscape architecture is that the Genius of the Place must be consulted, always, but she need not be always obeyed. The examples in the video, below, show what would happen to some of the world’s historic districts were the tyranny Sennett identifies to be overturned.

Posted in skyline policy, urban design Tagged with: ,

Was Frederick Law Olmsted or Gilgamesh the father of landscape architecture?

A Google.com search on Olmsted “father of landscape architecture” produces 153,000 returns. But, of course, he was not the father of landscape architecture. As Norman T Newton wrote (Design on the Land, 1971 p. xxi) ‘Landscape architecture: a profession only a little over a century old; an art as old as human existence’. Recognising this point enhances Olmsted’s historical importance as the father of the landscape architecture profession.Newton does not say whether by ‘human’ he means Homo sapiens sapiens (evolved 50,000 years ago) or Homo sapiens (evolved 200,000 years ago). But why stop there? Avian dinosaurs, the Jurassic ancestors of birds, are believed to have laid their eggs in nests. So they must have chosen sites and built structures – an activity that could well be classified as landscape architecture. An argument against this is that we restrict use of the word ‘father’ to a genus and to a named individual.

As things stand, and as discussed in the eBook, below, ‘history begins at Sumer’ and, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, we have a written record of a king who describes his work on the city of Uruk in terms not unlike those a modern landscape architect would use.  My view is that  ‘Landscape architecture is an ancient art and must be older than architecture, because you have to choose a site before you can build a structure. Our distant ancestors understood places and integrated their settlements with local environments.’  (Chapter 8, LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: What, Why, When, How, Where, Who and What Next? Kindle Edition ebook 2017 by Tom Turner)

Landscape Architecture Kindle eBook designed for use on mobile devices,  free 10-14th September midnight-to-midnight Pacific Standard Time.  

Posted in landscape architecture

Should LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE be above, below or equal to ARCHITECTURE?

Historically and logically, landscape architecture leads architecture. Administratively, the relationship is the other way about, far too often

This sign was outside the building where I studied studied landscape architecture in a University of Edinburgh building in George Square. The typography showed ARCHITECTURE above and in a larger font size than LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE. When the University destroyed the building the sign was thrown away and my Dad rescued it. I hope its replacement, outside or inside the Edinburgh College of Art, shows a more equal relationship. A photo would be welcome. My Photoshop job shows an equal relationship, in terms of font size, and landscape architecture coming before architecture in time.

My view is that  ‘Landscape architecture is an ancient art and must be older than architecture, because you have to choose a site before you can build a structure. Our distant ancestors understood places and integrated their settlements with local environments.’  (Chapter 8, LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: What, Why, When, How, Where, Who and What Next? Kindle Edition ebook 2017 by Tom Turner)

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE eBook Free Offer 10-14th September 2017

Landscape Architecture Kindle eBook designed for use on mobile devices,  free 10-14th September midnight-to-midnight Pacific Standard Time.  

 

Posted in landscape architecture

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: What, Why, When, How, Where, Who and What Next?

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: What, Why, When, How, Where, Who and What Next? Kindle Edition ebook  from Amazon 2017 by Tom Turner

Introduction to landscape architecture Kindle eBook, designed for use on mobile devices

In brief, here are my answers to some of the key questions about landscape architecture:
1. WHAT is landscape architecture? The art of composing landform, water and plants with buildings and pavements to make good places.
2. WHEN did landscape architecture originate? The art is at least 12,000 years old.  The term dates from the early 19th century. The organised profession dates from the late nineteenth century.
3. HOW are good landscapes designed? By using good design methods
4. WHY does society need landscape architects? Because of the widespread demand for what IFLA’s founding president called a ‘collective landscape’. It is making landscape architecture one of the world’s most important professions.
5. WHERE do landscape architects create public goods? On land in public ownership and on land in private ownership.
6. WHO belongs in the Landscape Architecture Canon? In the west: Senenmut 1450BCE, Hadrian 117 to 138, Vignola 1507-1573, Sixtus V 1520-1590, Le Nôtre 1613-1700, Kent 1685-1748, Olmsted 1822 -1903, Gaudi 1852-1926, Marx 1909-1994, Gustafson 1951-. In the east: Gilgamesh 2500 BCE , Cyrus 530BCE, Buddha 400 BC, Kautila 350BCE, Tachibana 1050, Enshu 1579 – 1647, Ji Cheng 1582– 1642, Shah Jahan 1592-1666, Shigemori Mirei 1896– 1975, Kongjian Yu 1963 –
7. WHAT NEXT for landscape architecture? A post-Postmodern approach integrating the best aspects of Modernist and Postmodernist design theory.

AMAZON REVIEWS AND COMMENTS MOST WELCOME!​
Quotes from the book:
‘Le Corbusier’s design for the Capitol in Chandigarh is a really good example of really bad landscape architecture’
‘Landscape designers are not a special kind of person. Every person is a special kind of landscape designer’
‘My hope is that by giving short answers to these questions students and others will be able to spend less time on them than the 40 years it took me to find satisfactory answers.’
‘An artist can always start with a new canvas and a writer with a new sheet of paper. Landscape design is different’
‘The only software category to which landscape architects have made a significant contribution, GIS, is also the category with the most potential to localise and contextualise design’
‘Ideas come first and I like Kathryn Gustafson’s formulation of her own approach: Words > Diagrams > Models’
‘Too much landscape design is done with plans. Much too much’
‘The garden can be a crucible for the design of cities’
‘Learn from the work of painters, sculptors, architects, poets, musicians, philosophers, novelists and others’
‘Take Repton’s advice. He wrote that “The plan should be made not only to fit the spot, it ought actually to be made upon the spot”’
‘John Dixon Hunt, gave a devastating critique of landscape history and theory’
‘In the 21st century, design-by-layers has the potential to reunify architectural and landscape design’
‘The landscape architecture profession’s major challenge is to rid the planet of concrete jungles’
Sample pages from the eBook:

Cover and sample pages from Tom Turner’s Landscape Architecture What, Why, When, How, Where, Who, What Next? The Kindle eBook has approx 100 illustrations, including links to 30+ Youtube videos by the author

 

Posted in landscape architecture

Assessment of public open space POS squares piazzas parks SUPOS


Public open space needs to be assessed as a routine aspect of its planning, design and management. But how should it be done? This was the question Dr Ying Li took for her PhD research at the University of Greenwich in London. As explained in the above interview her approach was:

  • to focus on Small Urban Public Open Space SUPOS – often described as ‘urban squares’
  • to survey the literature of as many theorists as possible, including the work of urban designers, social theorists, landscape architects, architects and planners. The theorists she particularly admired were Jane Jacobs, WH Whyte, Bill Hillier and Jan Gehl
  • to extract 38 measurable indicators/criteria from the theory texts
  • to apply the indicators/criteria to a large sample of spaces in London and in Tianjin
  • to look for statistical correlations between the use intensity of the public open spaces and the measured values for the indicators/criteria

The main conclusion from the research was that few of the criteria/indicators have general validity in explaining the intensity with which public spaces are used  but that most of the criteria/indicators have value in explaining the intensity with which particular spaces are used. This led to the recommendation that the SUPOS Assessment Method (SAM), developed as part of the research, should be used in the planning, design and management of public open spaces. Dr Li is making an open source SAM spreadsheet available to students and practitioners.

I would like to see a Lupos Assessment Method (LAM) developed for the assessment of Large Urban Public Open Space (LUPOS). See also Public Open Space parks, squares, landscape character assessment

Dr Li also comments on the application of the SAM methodology to Trafalgar Square in London.


LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: What, Why, When, How, Where, Who and What Next?

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Kindle Edition by Tom Turner (Author)
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Posted in landscape architecture, urban design, urban squares