This fall, LAM will be highlighting professional and student winners from the 2020 ASLA Awards by asking designers to dive deep into one image from their winning project.
Jia: Bringing Landscape Architecture to Webtoons, by July Aung, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Student Communications Award of Excellence.
“Webtoons are a story and illustration-driven medium that makes information easily digestible and relatable, creating engaging content for younger audiences that have grown up in a fast-paced culture. Typical landscape architecture publications tend to have long, informative narratives that are often hard or take time to understand without a background in the subject. The webtoon format allows for graphics that clearly illustrate and summarize these concepts throughout an immersive story. Additionally, webtoons are designed for smartphones and are often distributed for free online, delivering messages and information to a global audience regardless of background and situation.
“When designing for the smartphone, the most important step is to limit the quantity of narration and dialogue so that it doesn’t overwhelm the screen and become hard to read. The illustrations and graphic design are the focus, while the words serve as the clarification, thus acting as the connecting thread between the panels. As with film, the pacing and flow of the illustrations and narration define the mood, time, and changes in location, which directly influences the reader’s feelings. For example, fast pacing exudes strong emotions such as anger and excitement, while slow pacing is mellow, sentimental, and relaxed. Hence, providing the wrong pacing and chapter design takes the reader out of the story or overwhelms them with too much information.”
—July Aung, Student ASLA
This unusual project delivers the story and values of landscape architecture into a new realm. Webtoons are vertical, linear cartoons meant to be read on smartphones—a graphic novel in text message format. The platform is favored by audiences who are younger or outside landscape architecture’s typical horizons, and the graphic quality allows for visually rich narratives that can unfurl the profession’s many trajectories. The story of Jia is that of a small, family restaurant whose owner confronts a resource crisis as he searches for a missing ingredient, and through navigating it, learns to live differently on the land. The central conflict of resource exhaustion is expressed through the story of the family’s coming to terms with waste and regeneration and learning to live and work in a more sustainable way. Jia animates and activates many central values and tenets of landscape architecture, and through the webtoon format, offers an exceptional opportunity for engaging wider audiences.